Wings of change at Car­plane

‘As good as a trainer plane and a com­pact car’

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - DAVID SZONDY

The Braun­schweig-based com­pany Car­plane hopes to square the cir­cle with a twin-fuse­lage road­able mono­plane that made its first public ap­pear­ance in pro­to­type form at the re­cent Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Ger­many.

Small planes op­er­at­ing from lo­cal air­ports can greatly speed up busi­ness travel, but it of­ten isn’t prac­ti­cal be­cause of the prob­lem of get­ting to and from re­mote air­fields, which aren’t noted for be­ing boom­ing mar­kets for taxi ser­vices or hire car agen­cies.

A fly­ing car could fill this gap, but there’s a catch; cars make poor air­craft, and air­craft make poor cars. This is a prob­lem that has plagued what Car­plane puts at the over 2 000 fly­ing car projects of the past cen­tury.

De­vel­oped with money from the EU and the Ger­man state of Lower Sax­ony, Car­plane says it is aim­ing to have its ve­hi­cle cer­ti­fied both as a light air­craft (in the very light air­craft VLA cat­e­gory) and as a pas­sen­ger car, with­out any ex­emp­tions in ei­ther cat­e­gory. Its cre­ators also claim that it will fly at least as well as a trainer plane and drives as well as a com­pact car.

Like a num­ber of fly­ing car de­signs, the Car­plane has re­tractable wings and tail sec­tion. It’s not even the first twin-fuse­lage fly­ing car de­sign we’ve seen. But where the Car­plane does stand out is where is tucks its wings.

In­stead of be­low, above, to the sides, or be­hind the car, the wings are stowed be­tween the two hulls. This means they don’t have to be folded or re­tracted, which al­lows them to be lighter and stronger with­out mak­ing the car too tall or too long. They are also pro­tected from the wind while driv­ing, pre­vent­ing lift or slalom­ing with­out ob­struct­ing vi­sion, as has been the case with some al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments. In the cur­rent pro­to­type, the wings are stowed man­u­ally, but the com­pany says it has de­signed a mech­a­nism to do this au­to­mat­i­cally in pro­duc­tion mod­els, pro­vided the ve­hi­cle is granted a weight ex­emp­tion to ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra me­chan­ics.

The twin-fuse­lage de­sign also al­lows the Car­plane to have four non-re­tractable 15-inch wheels with block tyres from a Smart car. Th­ese pro­vide for a take­off run of only 85 m be­cause the wheels are un­der power, which means that the Car­plane can op­er­ate from short grass airstrips. In ad­di­tion, the hull ar­range­ment al­lows the Car­plane to fit in a stan­dard garage. Its empty weight of 498 kg is about the same as a two-seat com­pact car.

The twin-fuse­lage ar­range­ment does have an ob­vi­ous down­side, as it sep­a­rates the driver and pas­sen­ger.

How­ever, Car­plane says that this isn’t re­ally a big deal, as the ve­hi­cle is aimed at the busi­ness mar­ket, where the driver and pas­sen­ger are usu­ally sep­a­rated as a mat­ter of course. The Car­plane’s fold­able push prop is pow­ered by a 151 bhp PC850 en­gine that gives the ve­hi­cle an es­ti­mated range of 833 km, a ser­vice ceil­ing of 4 570 m, and a cruis­ing speed of 200 km/h. On the ground, it can do 176 km/h and is com­pli­ant with Euro-5 emis­sion con­trols.

Car­plane says that it hopes to have the cur­rently un­fin­ished pro­to­type com­pleted by July.

— Giz­mag.com.

De­vel­oped with money from the EU and the Ger­man state of Lower Sax­ony, Car­plane says it is aim­ing to have its ve­hi­cle cer­ti­fied both as a light air­craft and as a pas­sen­ger car, with­out any ex­emp­tions in ei­ther cat­e­gory. Its cre­ators also claim that it will fly at least as well as a trainer plane and drives as well as a com­pact car.

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