February 15, 2005 The Jetpod is a Very Quiet Short Take-Off and Landing (VQSTOL) light twin-jet aircraft, can cruise at 300 knots (350 mph, 550 kmh) and requires just 125 metres to take-off or land using a combination of horizontal and vertical thrust. The Jetpod takes off then reconfigures from a VQSTOL jet and into a fast-jet in few seconds, then accelerates to 350 mph in just a few seconds more. If the Jetpod due for flight testing in 16 months, it will be a significant advancement in aircraft design. The aircraft will sell for less than US$1,000,000 and might be available to the military as early as 2009. Certification of the civil passenger version will be 4-5 years from first application, which is not planned for at least another 16 months - the time scheduled to complete the building of the first proof-of-concept. The flight trial phase will follow.
In addition to being nimble and quiet, the Jetpod is also big - it has a wide-bodied fuselage with a high cabin ceiling and wide rear clamshell doors with a walk/run-in foot-ramp.
There are extra-large passenger windows for viewing and increased ambient light.
There's room for eight people including the pilot. The cabin height is 1.82 metres throughout, and the cabin width of 1.55m also extends throughout.
Though the Jetpod seems ideal for a host of medium range door-to-door trips, commercial and private are likely to come behind a long queue of army, navy, police, emergency, rescue, ambulance and coast guard keen to make use of its unique capabilities, namely very fast point-to-point times over medium distances.
The biggest hurdle to overcome for an inner-city commuer taxi is noise - UK-based Jetpod developer Avcen's silencing technologies for the jet engines are the key to the Jetpod. The company claims that it will not be heard above the routine noise of street traffic.
Avcen claims its noise attenuation technologies will reduce the noise output of any existing engine manufacturer's relevant sized 3500 lb thrust jet engine by up to two recognised Stages or Chapters of jet noise, enabling jet noise to be reduced by as much as 50%.
The company believes its "in-house developed technologies are capable of going much further toward eradicating jet noise altogether."
Private & Commercial Use
The Jetpod can carry seven fare-paying passengers in the commuter/taxi role. With no noise and a short take-off distance, the Jetpod could become the future of fast inner-city air transport with incredible point-to-point times for distances over 20 kilometres.
Built for multiple daily sectors, the Jetpod can land on any flat piece of ground longer than 125 metres, and Avcen sees an ideal role for the Jetpod being low-cost, free-roaming, multi-sector, low-level, very quiet, city centre air-taxis.
Such taxis could take you 300 kilometres from the inner city to a country property or ski resort inside 30 minutes. Or from city centre to the airport in five minutes instead of an hour in an earthbound taxi. Avcen's new word for this class of aircraft is a "Transpeeder." Somewhere between Superman's "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" and "Beam me up Scotty" the Jetpod will transpeed you from one place to another.
Such scenarios are a long way off as the development of a safe air safety infrastructure to cater for such a scenario is many years away, though NASA is working on a Personal Air Vehicle project designed to enable such a scenario.
As a boy's toy, the Jetpod will be a true prize. A personal, low-noise countryside Transpeeder capable of landing on grass or roughly prepared dirt strips anywhere you like. Once airborne it accelerates all the way to 350 mph in a few seconds.
There are many transport tasks at which a Jetpod would excel, from moving corporate staff to multiple localised destinations through to use as an all hours country-city courier.
Police, Emergency, Rescue, Ambulance And Coast Guard Usage
For this type of work, the Jetpod is immensely flexible in its capabilitieis. With advanced "eyesight", the Jetpod can fly all hours and all weather. As it can loiter at 45 knots, it is also suitable with those eyes for quiet night surveillance operations by Police, Customs and Coast Guard or as free-roaming police security over major cities. Should it lock onto a target, it will not be outrun by anything on the ground, Bugatti Veyron or not.
For emergency response teams, the ability to relocate anywhere within 500 kilometres inside an hour would save many lives. As a civil surgical air-ambulance with the space to run straight in with a stretcher it would also save many lives.
The military M-300 Jetpod's 300 knots high-speed cruise is well suited to 7-man special operations rapid ingress/egress, battlefield command-and-control, fast extraction of wounded troops, and for Aircraft Carrier operations it does not need a catapult or arrester gear. A squadron of M-400s could conceivably operate from modified versions of other Navy ships.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Jetpods
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), is a term you'll hear a lot more about over the coming years. In the past it has mainly been mentioned whenever a technologically advanced country (aka the USA) is involved in warfare.
The biggest advantage of a UAV is that it can be put 'in harm's way' - it can be put in a dangerous situation where the odds of losing a pilot (the most valuable part of any aircraft) are simply too great.
Used on a limited but increasing scale since the Vietnam War for aerial surveillance - 10 UAV systems were used in the US invasion of Iraq - UAVs are now taking on a more active combat role as well as finding applications in the private sector.
There are two Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) variants planned, and these offer some unique capabilities, including the ability to maintain a hover as well as sweeping areas at 300 knots.
With its advanced eyesight, it would be capable of fire watch, coast guard search and surveillance, 24 hours a day in all weather and will be capable of rescuing one person remotely under the control of base-station operatives up to 300 miles away.
The U-600 has been designed to carry out autonomous light resupply, construction and engineering repair tasking along-side oil rigs, large ships, high-rise buildings and other very remote scientific stations in desert or polar regions.
Gizmo has written some extensive articles on unmanned aerial vehicles, the worlds most advanced commercial UAV, multi-vehicle and voice controlled UAVs, the X45-C Unmanned Aerial Bomber and a host of others.