Starcar 3 is being designed at The University of Arizona as a platform to demonstrate technologies important to the future of personal aviation. Among them are the Global Positioning System for precision guidance and control, automobile engines for propulsion, structural methods compatible with comfort and safety, and vehicle transformation to combine the benefits of automobiles and airplanes.
Starcar 3 is a system of three modules: road module, passenger module, and sky module. The passenger and road modules together form a good automobile, and the passenger and sky modules together are a good airplane. This paper describes the road module, passenger module structure, rear suspension, sky module propulsion, and sky module structure.
The road module presently is based on a Honda 1.6 liter engine mounted transversely for front-wheel drive. The sky module structure includes a composite aeroshell and a welded aluminum tube frame, built upon a base frame that ensures torsional stiffness on the road. The sky module structure is a graphite-epoxy composite, and the propulsion system is built around a Chevrolet 90° V6 engine with an odd-fire crankshaft. The drive train is designed to abate torsional vibrations.
Starcar 3 as an airplane has an estimated gross weight of 2,190 lbs. The predicted top speed is 236 mph. At an altitude of 8,000 ft and speed of 200 mph, the fuel flow rate is 9.2 gph, and the fuel economy is 21.6 mpg.