Paul Moller, President of Moller International, Inc., the developer of the Skycar, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, announced that the company’s Rotapower rotary engine reached a milestone by producing 102 horsepower (76 kW) at 7,200 rpm from a single 530 cc displacement rotor while operating on alcohol.
|Rendering of the Skycar 400. Click to enlarge.|
The dual-rotor engine used in each of the four nacelles in the Skycar (1060 cc) weighs 65 pounds. This result establishes a power-to-weight ratio exceeding 3 for the four-passenger Skycar 400 engines. By comparison, the popular light plane Rotax 912 engine produces 0.76 horsepower per pound.
Moller expects the Rotapower rotary engine to perform equally well during gasoline-fueled tests to be conducted in the near future. Historically the emissions characteristics of the Rotapower engine while running on alcohol-based fuels were at levels comparable to those of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles established by the California Air Resources Board (ARB).
The Skycar 400 requires 850 hp (634 kW) to takeoff vertically on a standard day at sea level with four passengers. The test result indicates the Skycar 400 will have more than 90% reserve power available in case of an engine failure on a hot day at altitude.
Moller International was created in 1983 when it determined that a practical VTOL aircraft (a “volantor”) was possible due to the development of a unique rotary engine by Dr. Felix Wankel. In 1985 the Company acquired the entire rotary engine assets of Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) who had produced a rotary engine to power their snowmobiles and outboards. In 1989 the Company flew its rotary engine-powered Neuera volantor before members of the press. The Company then began the development of a high-speed volantor, which it called the Skycar. A four-passenger Skycar volantor was flown in 2001 before the Company’s stockholders.
The Company also developed a number of unmanned aircraft utilizing its rotary engine and flight control system (FCS). These aircraft (called Aerobots) were developed under contracts with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Naval Ocean Systems Center, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Naval Research Laboratory, Harry Diamond Labs, Hughes Aircraft Company, California Department of Transportation and the US Army, Navy and Air Force.
Products in development include the Skycar 400, Neuera and newly designed one- and two-passenger models of the Skycar Light Sport (LS) series.