1998-09-28

“Converticar” - The Roadable Helicopter 985513

The Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona, has been conducting a concept design study of a roadable helicopter called the “Converticar” to assess its feasibility. This is a twin-engine vehicle with twin retractable coaxial counter-rotating rotors. The purpose of the study is to describe a vehicle that carries four passengers in the equivalent of a luxury car that also can fly like a helicopter, and can be priced like a luxury car. To come near this cost goal, the production rate must be on the order of 500,000 units a year. At that rate there is no chance of training a comparable number of pilots each year. So the machine must fly and navigate autonomously, with the pilot just dialing in where he/she wants to go. Technologically, the concept appears to be feasible. Modern design processes, new materials, and improved manufacturing process should allow the Converticar to be built at the prescribed rate when the proper infrastructure for manufacturing it is made available. Getting the cost down to near that of a luxury car seems possible, but a major hurdle will be gaining acceptance of the automatic flight concept by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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