I’ll take the sky road

Hot on the heels of Californian inventor Paul Moller and his Skycar, a group of Israeli engineers have recently announced their plans to build a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) flying car prototype. Dr Rafi Yoeli, Managing Director of AD&D Ltd. in Rehovot, Israel says that this new vehicle, dubbed ‘CityHawk’ will be able to carry two people, take off and land vertically, and stay aloft around one hour.

The maximum operating ceiling for the CityHawk is expected to be 8000 feet, and it will reach flight speeds of 80-90 knots. The most significant feature of the CityHawk is its exceptionally small footprint, which is merely 2.5×5.5 meters. This footprint is compatible with most standard urban parking spaces and garages.

The CityHawk is powered by two fans, each driven by four IC (Internal Combustion) engines. There is a redundancy of engines that allows the vehicle to fly down to a landing even if each fan loses an engine. In cases where a more severe emergency situation arises, a ballistically deployed parachute will lower the entire vehicle to the ground. Normal control of the vehicle is accomplished from the left cockpit using manual control. Total thrust of both fans will determine vertical speed. Differential thrust between both fans will be used for pitch control and consequently forward speed.

Roll and yaw are controlled by cascades of vanes both on the upper as well as the lower side of each fan. Future versions of the CityHawk will be used primarily for operation in restricted areas where helicopters have limited accessibility due to their large and exposed rotors.

It is envisioned that future CityHawks will be able to provide personal urban transportation, police patrol, and even be produced in special configurations best suited for ambulance and urban evacuation missions. Operation close to buildings will be no restriction for the CityHawk. The craft will in fact be able to rescue trapped people inside high rise buildings by hovering close to a window and allowing a person to step on to the platform (with one of the canopies removed), and consequently be flown down to safety.

Other civil roles include air taxi, newsgathering, traffic control, fish spotting, and various agricultural duties presently performed by small fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Due to the fans relatively low blade loading and rotational speed, it is expected that the CityHawk will be considerably quieter than similar future ‘Flying Cars’ relying on smaller fans or ‘thrusters’. This characteristic will further enhance the CityHawk’s potential as a candidate for future urban operation. The prototype / concept demonstrator CityHawk may fly in the first half of year 2001, according to its designer and planned test pilot, Dr Rafi Yoeli. This ambitious timetable is possible mainly because the vehicle’s fans, engines and gearboxes are all in fact identical with off-the-shelf proven units on which the Hummingbird VTOL Platform and it’s unmanned counterpart, the Hornet, are based. Both vehicles are presently in flight status and continuous testing at AD&D’s facility in Israel.