Go Air Scooter, Go

AirScooter

While we’re still waiting for flying cars (or even just fuel efficient cars) I’m keeping track of tiny helicopters like the GEN H-4 and this one, the AirScooter II, pictured above.

The company, AirScooter Corporation of Henderson NV, introduces the new craft with a tip of the hat to Igor Sikorsky‘s earliest designs featuring counter-rotating blades. Company founder Woody Norris (who won an award for acoustics) explains: “what we’ve done is package the coaxial design in a modern light-weight craft that allows for intuitive control and incredible maneuverability.”

By eliminating the need and complexity of swashplates, collective and cyclic control through a coaxial rotor design a number of benefits beyond conventional helicopter designs are immediately realized. First; enhanced, intuitive flight controls are achieved by simple motorcycle-style handlebars and the absence of a tail rotor. To gain altitude, simply throttle up like you would on a motorcycle, turn left or right on the handlebars for craft rotation and move the handlebar assembly as a joystick for directional control (including reverse). No pedal controls are necessary, which means someone without the use of their legs can just as easily fly the AirScooter. Handlebar controls represent the most distinguishable feature of the AirScooter. AirScooter’s patented design also provides an amazing level of stability while in the air and during flight.

The AirScooter II is said to meet the requirements of FAR Part 103 and is classified as an ultralight. Would-be flyers need no FAA pilot’s license, just the steel will and faith in engineering.

Powering the personal helicopter is the custom-designed AeroTwin engine. AirScooter called on motorcycle racing engine specialist Bill White of New Zealand to develop an ultralight, 4-stroke engine producing 50-75 horsepower. The resulting two cylinder, air cooled aluminum engine features ceramic coated combustion surfaces, hollow cam shafts, and the option to run it either vertically or horizontally.

Price is expected to be $50,000 when the production model debuts sometime before the end of 2006. Regulations limit it to five gallons of fuel and a max speed of 55 knots (about 63 miles per hour). Useful load maxes out at about 350 pounds. Flight duration is reported as about one hour, and they recommend a ceiling of about 50 feet. Unlike many ultralight aircraft, the AirScooter will be sold fully assembled, and not in kit form (well, just bolt on the 14 foot diameter rotor blades).

The sky is the limit, literally. The AirScooter is not designed or marketed to just be the “next thing” for recreational hobbyists. “Traditional recreational vehicles like ATV’s and jet-skis are fun, but limited in use,” says Dwaine Barnes, President of AirScooter Corporation, “the AirScooter will provide a simple way for man to achieve the excitement and versatility of flight for recreational and professional use that’s beyond any other product on the market.”

update: there’s video!

aircraft, AirScooter, AirScooter II, aviation, helicopter, personal helicopter, rotary wing, rotorcraft, ultralight

13 thoughts on “Go Air Scooter, Go

  1. I love how the pilot is wearing a helmet. Like THAT’S really going to help survive a catastrophic failure at 50 feet!

    Sadly, it doesn’t look like there is anyplace to store items purchased from WalMart. I mean, what’s the fun if you can’t take the thing shopping?

    [tags]PigEffer, Walmart, failure, helmet, survive[/tags]

  2. I have to say that $50,000 is a pile of cash to be paying for something like this. My Dad’s Cesna 186 only set him back $30,000.

    [tags]rip off[/tags]

  3. Ever since its debut in Popular Science, I’ve been thrilled about the design. Later models look as though they’ve added a turbo & an oil cooler. I see quite a bit of costly to machine aluminum instead of die castings but, still the workmanship is top notch. Simple flying is something we’ve all been waiting for. I hope they can keep the costs down or lower them. The engine alone is only $7800. In future versions after they tool up they might be able to simplify the design even more.

  4. It’s very expensive and very simple , but if he want to get down what is happen with his head . because the fan is very near!

  5. Avoiding the problems with a horizontal hinge pin, an integral part of the rotor assembly designed to vibrate itself into oblivion, and going for two counter rotating blades is a wonderful safety factor. At the very least, it eliminates the necessity for magnafluxing for metallic fatigue. Were this MY project, I’d look to Johnson Engineering and their new generation of hi-tech long life batteries and power cells. Their weight reduction in the last few years coupled with the use of a lighter, cheaper electric motor instead of an expensive and potentially explosive internal combustion engine and fuel tanks would, at the very least, make me want to invest in their production. Just go for overkill on the copper for the electric brushes and this could be a winner; at least short term until the fun police start legislating as their practicality for commuters and cheaper production costs make them more popular. Seriously, start thinking electric. Quiet=less obtrusive. But since the electrical system is usually the weakest link in all things mechanical, a recovery system (parachute) may be a practical consideration. Oh, and retractable wheels or castors would be handy for those of us with garages or sheds instead of hangars.

    John Stewart, Staten Island, NY

  6. I’m absolutly sure the drive system includes a sprage clutch. If the engine quits, it should flutter down to the earth.
    That is if you can decrease the blade pitch without swash plates and other such helicopter blade control systems.
    I don’t know, maybe enough inertia from 50 feet, to push through the drag of fixed pitch blades…I guess if the blades were carbon and Kevlar slinging 50 lbs of depleated uranium on the exterior tips.
    Would probably be able to use multi-gear startup procedure or at least rocket assisted tip starters.
    It is all fun!

  7. Well
    I was hopping to tear up the skys with two or three of these by now.
    Must have ran into $ or Tech issues.

    That platform you stand on the started out in Santa Clara CA and then Moved to New Zealand is taking orders now. But it is not as cool as this one. I hope this is not another Moler Flying car that has been ( available in one more year for at least 22 years).

    I hope you guys get it working. Let me know if I can help. .

    Jim Davison

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