A FLIGHT OF FANCY?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Focus -

I read with in­ter­est the ar­ti­cle on the Volo­copter (Oc­to­ber, p30). As de­picted, it looks in­ter­est­ing and ca­pa­ble of fill­ing a niche, but on fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion it ap­pears fa­tally flawed. What hap­pens if the en­gine stops? Un­like in the he­li­copter, which can auto-ro­tate down safely in the event of en­gine fail­ure, the Volo­copter ap­pears to have no pro­vi­sion for such a sit­u­a­tion. The small ro­tors might ro­tate dur­ing a de­scent with­out power, but they could not pro­vide enough life to al­low the ma­chine to make a con­trolled de­scent and a safe land­ing. Per­haps fewer and larger ro­tors might pro­vide the so­lu­tion, but then we are turn­ing it back into a he­li­copter! John Fay, Som­er­set (au­thor of The He­li­copter) Good ques­tion, John – watch this space! We’ve been in touch with the Volo­copter’s cre­ators and will in­clude their re­sponse in a fu­ture is­sue. – Ed

The Volo­copter au­tonomous air taxi could soon be­come a re­al­ity – but how safe is it, asks John Fay?

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