Transforming electric aircraft aims to go vertical
Biologists will already know that Neoptera is a major taxonomic group, which includes almost all winged insects. Now, however, it turns out to also be the name of a planned electric VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) light aircraft.
Being developed by a team of engineers based out of Bristol, UK and Toulouse, France, Neoptera should be capable of carrying two to five passengers or an equivalent cargo payload. Its concept design was finalized last September, with a series of working scale models reportedly taking to the skies starting the following month.
The model that is currently being flown represents the seventh generation of the concept, with a wingspan of 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) and a weight of about 10 kg (22 lb). Plans now call for a full-scale flying prototype to be built, plus the technical details of the commercial version of the aircraft need to be finalized.
Speaking of which, the company is currently keeping pretty quiet about its specs, stating on its website, "We have intentionally been secretative about our concept and wish to keep it that way for the time being, because what we do is purposely simple."
Judging by the supplied illustrations, though, one of Neoptera's key features is a cockpit pod that swivels relative to the rest of the aircraft. When the main body is standing tall and vertical, for a take-off or landing, the cockpit remains horizontal, so the passengers aren't staring up into the sky. While en route in the air, however, the body swings down to match up with the cockpit, going horizontal for faster, more efficient fixed-wing flight.
If you've got some cash lying around and would like to help finance development of the aircraft, or if you have some expertise in the field of aviation, the Neoptera partners would like to hear from you. They can be reached via the link below.