SureFly octocopter to make first manned flight in January
It was back in June that we first heard about Workhorse's SureFly, a carbon fiber-bodied octocopter designed to carry two people. Well, if everything works out, it will be making its first manned flight on Jan. 8th in Las Vegas, ahead of the CES trade show where it will be on static display.
Billed as being "the world's first personal electric hybrid octocopter," the 1,100-lb (499-kg) SureFly has four propeller arms with two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each one, along with a gas combustion engine that generates electricity to run the eight electric motors. There are also two lithium battery packs that can take over in case the engine fails, plus the final version should be equipped with an emergency parachute.
It has a claimed top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), and an estimated range of 70 miles with a pilot and passenger. Plans call for early versions of the aircraft to be pilot-operated via a joystick-type controller, with future models being capable of autonomous flight and payloads of up to 400 lb (181 kg).
The Jan. 8th date is subject to variables such as weather, regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, and from local municipalities. Workhorse is ultimately aiming for full certification by late 2019, and a price tag of around US$200,000.
"The response to SureFly's public displays has been enthusiastic, and while we have much work ahead of us in our march toward certification, this first test flight represents a significant milestone for the project," says CEO Stephen Burns.
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With the hype of urban flying and the prospect of having quicker transport out of congested cities it behooves all inventors, legislative bureaucracies, to remain focused on what will be safe. The idea of a flying machine flying overhead a bunch of people when there is a problem with the machine, it is not comforting to accept that it be able to silently fall earthward with the saving parachute deployed as it crushes the people below and then creates a traffic jam with its injuries , is just not worth thinking about.
If we are to have a new transport system it must be safe for all people, and simply put we are not there yet, what is needed is the elimination of the Single point of failure that exists in all these flying machines.
A helicopter can be manoeuvred whilst descending in an autorotation, there is the strong possibility it can be manoeuvred away from the people below, whereas with a failure of any of the flying machines rotors and or motors, it ends in an uncontrolled parachute landing, this is not good enough.
What is needed is the elimination of SPoF which must lead to redundancy in all the needed flying controls, just like every other flying plane, helicopter, gyrocopter etc, if it flies it must always be controllable, your life and mine depends on it ... we are all pedestrians.
These vehicles will be a 1 joystick operation and as all the kids today are fully trained in how to use that type of control, the training will be simple and very basic with computer safety systems ensuring no drunk idiots will cause problems. The BRS chutes will be the final link for total shutdown problems which should be very rare as they all seem to have multi rotor/power plant systems. Bring them on guys!!