November 29, 2004 UK based company Avcen has unveiled an aerial taxi concept aimed at giving urban commuters an airborne option by 2010. The "Jetpod" is a small twin-jet aircraft with a new VQSTOL (Very Quiet Short Take-off and Landing) technology that reduces noise emissions by up to 50% and enables short-distance air travel in built up urban areas. Requiring just 125 meters to take off and 300 meters to land, Avcen hopes busy metropolitan cities will embrace the Jetpod, building elevated runways above harbors, roads and railway tracks to handle arrivals and departures from "park-and-fly" terminals located in the suburbs.
"We know that cities like Moscow, Tokyo and New York are crying out for something like this, and there's nothing remotely like it around at the moment," Avcen managing director Mike Dacre told the BBC.
"We see it as very much as a 'park and fly' concept. You drive to a pick-up site, get on the aircraft, and off you go. Jetpods are meant to be a workhorse, a taxi cab in the air, for on-demand free-roaming traffic. But people shouldn't think that these things are going to be whizzing around crashing into each other. They'll be following set routes."
The company envisages production trials beginning in 2006, with air taxi operators as well as private Jetpod ownership commencing as soon as 2010 for an estimated price of US$1 million per Jetpod. Military, search and rescue and other functionality is expected from the different Jetpod prototypes currently in development, including:
The Jetpod T-100 Series is a near-future, low-cost city airtaxi concept. The aircraft has been built to withstand high multiple day and night usage over as many as 50 landings a day using a rotation of pilots. The cabin is equipped with ultra-light seats plus lap and cross-chest straps. Air taxi operators will not want to tanker fuel so the T-100 has been fitted with an outer under-wing pressure refuelling point for hot-running refuels.
The heavier M-300 is a battlefield Transpeeder. It is aimed at military applications including the rapid extraction of casualties from field medical units to rear echelon hospitals, whether on land or out to sea on Aircraft Carriers. All Jetpods can take-off and land from an Aircraft Carrier without a catapult or arrester gear. The M-300 will also enhance command and control by speeding battlefield commanders between front line positions and rear echelons. The M-300 features low noise, a rugged landing capability, rapid all weather in-egress at 300 kts and a 500 mile round-trip range.
The E-400 series is a civil air ambulance variant, and, like the M-300 is configured to carry a run-straight-in stretcher on or off its wheels. The M-300 and E-400 cabins can be configured to include two medical orderly seats and the space for overhead emergency operating equipment. Road barriers could be temporarily lowered across any suitable hospital road to allow an E-400 to land, without the need to build a STOL strip.
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