The Airscooter: a helicopter for the home?
By Mike Hanlon
January 20, 2005
January 21, 2005 The AirScooter II is an ultralight helicopter designed for easy control and manoeuvrability that looks set to take personal recreational airborne vehicles to new heights. Designed by AirScooter Corporation, the AirScooter II is a vehicle that has looked to aviation's past to help develop its future. In building and designing the AirScooter II, inventor and AirScooter Corporation cofounder Woody Norris and his team have successfully adapted a technology that has had a long line of difficulties in getting off the ground. We all recognise the modern helicopter, with its main rotor and tail rotor, but in terms of rotorcraft, the coaxial type had seemed likely to be limited to high-tech military and large transport helicopters. but things are progressing well and the future looks incredibly bright for the innovative and intelligent design of AirScooter II, an ultra-lightweight coaxial rotorcraft helicopter.
In October 2000 NASA successfully flew its prototype personal flight unit, or 'airscooter' as it was known, and Millenium Jet Inc., is another company currently in the development phase of the SoloTrek XFV - albeit from a totally different perspective. This shows that although the field of lightweight rotorcraft is still in its initial stages, AirScooter Corporation and the company's AirScooter II are breaking new ground.
AirScooter II is an ultralight helicopter with extraordinary control and manoeuvrability that looks set to take personal recreational airborne vehicles to new heights. Designed by AirScooter Corporation, the AirScooter II is a vehicle that has looked to aviation's past to help develop its future.
In building and designing the AirScooter II, inventor and AirScooter Corporation cofounder Woody Norris and his team have successfully adapted a technology that has had a long line of difficulties in getting of the ground. Difficulties that were experienced by the original inventor of the coaxial-design rotorcraft, the Russian-born aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky.
The coaxial design means having two blades mounted on the same axis rotating in opposite directions to each other. The benefits of counter-rotating propellers and rotors are that they can produce up to 30% more force or thrust than the regular ones, driven by the same engine. However, the main problem concerning effective coaxial rotorcraft has been weight. According to a spokesperson for AirScooter Corporation, "the AirScooter has overcome this obstacle by using superior design elements and space-age composite materials".
Part of this design includes a specially-designed 65 hp AeroTwin 4 stroke engine, designed by motorcycle engine specialists at Pearson Motor Company based in New Zealand. "The innovative AeroTwin engine is the result of a 'gap' in the ultralight engine market," the company claims in response to the absence of an existing light engine required to produce the 50-75 hp required to power the AirScooter II.
One of the main selling points of the AirScooter II is that it is classed as a "Part 103 ultralight", meeting the requirements for an ultralight vehicle according to US Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 103. This means that an FAA pilot's certificate is not required to pilot the AirScooter II.
Also, being an extremely light aircraft (as compared to non-recreational helicopters) is also a definite benefit to the craft's manoeuvrability and stability while hovering and during flight. According to AirScooter Corporation, "with practice a recreational pilot can quickly become confident with the controls and perform basic flight manoeuvres."
The simplicity of the control of the AirScooter II is largely due to the intuitive design of the control systems. Strangely, its handle bar design of the control systems makes it look more like riding a motorcycle than flying a helicopter, without the use of foot pedals.
Altitude is controlled by the throttle system not unlike a motorcycle, and the entire handlebar assembly is moved like a joystick for directional control in every direction, even reverse.
So how much will it all cost?
The price is still under consideration, but is expected to be under US$50,000. It will also come completely assembled apart from the rotor blades which need to be installed. AirScooter Corporation foresees a wide range of applications for such craft, from military surveillance to police agency and border patrol surveillance applications.
For further information visit the AirScooter website.