Aircraft

CityHawk eVTOL flying car entering "full-scale development"

CityHawk eVTOL flying car ente...
Urban Aeronautics is going into "full scale development" of its CityHawk flying car, an urban getabout vehicle with VTOL capabilities
Urban Aeronautics is going into "full scale development" of its CityHawk flying car, an urban getabout vehicle with VTOL capabilities
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: 170mph top speed
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: 170mph top speed
CityHawk VTOL flying car: range is only around 150km, this is an urban transport machine
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: range is only around 150km, this is an urban transport machine
CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin electric props at the back provide forward motion
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin electric props at the back provide forward motion
CityHawk VTOL flying car: six seats make it a true air taxi
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: six seats make it a true air taxi
CityHawk VTOL flying car: takes up the ground footprint of a large family car
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: takes up the ground footprint of a large family car
CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin turboshaft props do the heavy lifting
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin turboshaft props do the heavy lifting
CityHawk VTOL flying car: if the doors open upwards, you know it's gonna be expensive
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CityHawk VTOL flying car: if the doors open upwards, you know it's gonna be expensive
Is this a utopian future or a dystopian one? Hard to tell.
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Is this a utopian future or a dystopian one? Hard to tell.
VTOL flying cars like the CityHawk should be able to land on rooftops
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VTOL flying cars like the CityHawk should be able to land on rooftops
Urban Aeronautics is going into "full scale development" of its CityHawk flying car, an urban getabout vehicle with VTOL capabilities
10/11
Urban Aeronautics is going into "full scale development" of its CityHawk flying car, an urban getabout vehicle with VTOL capabilities
"Death zone" protection between 20-100 feet will need to be addressed before these things can fly over populated areas
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"Death zone" protection between 20-100 feet will need to be addressed before these things can fly over populated areas

Israel's Urban Aeronautics (UA) has announced it's going into full-scale development of its CityHawk VTOL flying car. The first manned flights of this hybrid-powered, 170 mph six-seater will take place in 2021-22, after which it'll be converted to run on hydrogen fuel cells.

Unlike many flying car designs we've seen in recent years, the CityHawk doesn't use any kind of winged flight option to help increase its efficiency over a longer range. Instead, it's lifted full-time by a large pair of contra-rotating props at the front and rear of the vehicle, which will initially be powered by a pair of 1,000-horsepower turboshaft engines. These engines are also connected to electric generators, which charge up batteries to power twin thruster props on the back for forward motion.

The configuration is similar to the unmanned Cormorant/AirMule aircraft that UA has been testing for a number of years now. That airframe has completed more than 250 test flights to date.

CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin turboshaft props do the heavy lifting
CityHawk VTOL flying car: twin turboshaft props do the heavy lifting

The CityHawk is designed to meet FAA regulations as a twin-engine helicopter – but it carries some significant advantages, notably its car-sized footprint, its completely enclosed propellers and its much quieter operation. UA claims the CityHawk's prop noise will blend in with regular traffic by the time it's a block away, where you can often hear a helicopter from a couple of miles' distance.

Once it's built and certified, the next step will be to convert the CityHawk to green power. Battery energy density isn't high enough to get a useful range yet, so UA is planning to go with hydrogen fuel cells. We'll let them figure out how to get that cranky stuff piped to wherever it's needed for refueling.

CityHawk VTOL flying car: takes up the ground footprint of a large family car
CityHawk VTOL flying car: takes up the ground footprint of a large family car

Safety, says UA, is handled with the addition of a ballistic parachute. We're not so sure. Even the most advanced ballistic chutes take time to open, meaning that any aircraft without wings, or a huge rotor and the ability to auto-rotate, will have a "death zone" to contend with between, say, 20 and 100 feet from the ground in which ballistic 'chutes will be no help.

We're aware of some advances in this area, and will bring you news once they're ready for the light of day. This kind of death zone safety issue has to be sorted out before we'll see manned flying cars, jetpacks, jetboards or jet suits taking off in a mass sense.

Source: Urban Aeronautics/Metro Skyways

28 comments
Kalavo
Why cant they use cold thrusters to arrest a fall to the ground, surely theres room for it, then a parachute can be used for higher levels..?
Martin Winlow
Your "death zone" could be covered by the addition of some compress gas rocket thrusters. If Tesla is going to manage to fit them to the new Roadster it seems conceivable that they would be feasible here, too.
Towerman
Outstanding News ! ! I just can't get enough of this machine it looks so good ! The whole body with those beautiful fans integrated into one sleek looking package....! ! ! ! Brilliant !!!!
RobWoods
Yes, Kalavo and Martin Winlow said it right, some sort of compressed cold thrusters in order to address the death zone that has been holding up development of these air cars for years.
Crankie Fahrt
Kalavo - Right on. I was thinking exactly the same thing before I got to the comment section. Really no different than SpaceX and, uh, the other guy...(brain fart - sorry!). Just a matter of scale and composition. I mean, C4 would be a bad dry-explosive to use LOL. But yes - built in, 1-time Thrusters to fire, say, 15ft above ground (as passengers are not protected from high-G's in an upright sitting position) and at least slow it down to a soft "crunch" speed. Let the insurance company sort it out with the living survivors.
Crankie Fahrt
Just wondering - after looking carefully at ALL the photo's, I have no idea how they shoe-horned a pair of 1,000SHP engines. I mean, there is not even room for a small 500 Watt power generator, never mind 2 turboshaft engines. Perhaps they have found a way to shrink the motors? Idle curiosity and logical puzzles make me squirrel a lot, and this is one of them.
BrianK56
By 2022 these things will be sorted out. Technology progression is thriving.
M.Lennerton
I'm worried for the pedestrians and cyclists being exposed to the propwash/jetwash these flying cars would produce. Not to mention the double parking (in 3D) that is sure to follow. Flying cars are still far too impractical for our current cityfare.
Rotogizmag
I think even a helicopter has a death zone of 100 feet. Takes some time to auto-rotate.
Nibblonian
Wouldn't the rotor wash be real annoying to those pedestrians on the sidewalk nearby as one of those things lifts off?