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StrongMobile Flying Car Project


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A flying car project by retired Air Force pilot-engineer Rich Strong intended for frequent regional business travellers. The design features automotive features and aviation features with automatic …

A flying car project by retired Air Force pilot-engineer Rich Strong intended for frequent regional business travellers. The design features automotive features and aviation features with automatic transformation. The project is in the full-size model phase.

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  • 1. StrongMobile Flying Car Project
    “Welcome to the Wide & Wonderful World of Wheels and Wings"
    Richard Allen Strong, B.Sc. Aero. & Astro. Engrg, MA
    (Major,USAF,Retired) Commercial Pilot, ASELI
    Proprietor, Safety Analysis Systems Co.
    Copyright © 2008 Richard Allen Strong
  • 2. “The Future Belongs to Those Who Can See It”
    “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Benjamin Franklin
    "Do not go where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail..." Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher
    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke
    "Mark my word: A combination airplane and motor car is coming. You may smile, but it will come." Henry Ford
    "At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done - then it is done, and all the world wonders why it took so long." Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    "If you don't have a consensus that it is nonsense, you don't have a breakthrough." Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites
    "When you design your aircraft, distort the specifications to be different!“ Prof. Ed Lesher, University of Michigan, Speed Record Engineer-Pilot
    “The greatest obstacle to scientific progress is the illusion of complete knowledge.” Prof. Disney, Hubble Telescope Committee
    Those who say “It can’t be done!” should not interrupt those who are doing it.
     At the end of the movie, Back to the Future, Doc Brown says to Marty:
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
  • 3. Problem Statement & Proposed Solution
    • The problem to be solved recognizes that there are hundreds of cities that are hundreds of miles apart, and many business travelers and cargo movers want to go between and within them quickly and easily on a door-to-door, daily basis.
    • 4. The highway system is forecast to be more congested and slower, with no relief in sight. Air travellers still need to spend time to convert from one mode to another mode for local travel.
    • 5. Proposed solution is an aircar with an optimum payload and adequate performance for a core market offrequent regional business travelers that is quicker, with lower net cost from time savings and higher production rates than current airplanes.
    • 6. The potential marketof thousandsof operators avoiding spending millions of hours driving or changing modes may establisha billion-dollarindustry within a decade from start-up.
  • 7. Some Common Fallacies and Truths
    The common fallacies are:
    1) cars are too heavy to fly;
    2) "average" drivers are too dangerous to fly;
    the sky is too small for millions of aircars; and
    flyable automobiles would cost too much.
    The truths are:
    1) StrongMobile designs are adequate for good performance;
    2) licensed pilots are better trained, regulated and qualified;
    3) the skies are big enough and control is adequate for hundreds of thousands of aircars; and
    4) avoiding payroll and support costs of business operators vs. other travel modes offsets costs of StrongMobiles.
  • 8. StrongMobiles Will Be As Efficient As Others,With Much Less Hassle & And More Freedom
    • Savings in time spentwhiledriving orchanging modes give higher average speed. Example: For 400 mi., 3 hr. trip, 0:05 transform and 140 KTAS with StrongMobile compares to 0:30 transform and 200 KTAS for car and fast airplane.
    • 9. Operators are free to choose schedules, routes, airports, destinations, and modes to suit weather, flight and traffic conditions to fit their budgets and desires.
  • 10. The FAA rules show a speed limit of 250 knots when flying below 10,000 feet.
    StrongMobiles are designed to cruise at about 140 knots.
    The shortest distance between two places avoids wasting time and fuel.
  • 11. In general, you can plan your trip for various situations
    Plan A - VFR or IFR direct [probability of about 80%]; or
    Plan B - weather or TFR deviations of less than one hour [probability of about 15%]; or
    Plan C - deviations of more than one hour, but less than two hours [probability of about 3%]; or
    Plan D - Driving only [probability of about 2%], or
    Plan E - Airports and Roads closed [probability less than 1%], or
    Plan F - Aborted trip en route and overnight or more delay [probability of less than 1%].
  • 12. Evolution of the StrongMobile
    Caproni-Campini fanjet 1940
    Bill Stout’s Skycar
    1960 Nash Airflyte
  • 13. The Primary Purpose
    A N D
  • 14. StrongMobile Mock-Up Model
  • 15. 1971 StrongMobile Design (U.S. Patent 3,612,440)
    • The lifting body-fuselage presents an automobile appearance; it may provide about 1/3 of the lift and allow use of a smaller wing.
    • 16. The ducted fan is quieter than a propeller; the jetwash blows on the wing to boost lift. A clutch disengages the fan for driving.
    • 17. The wing has spoiler ailerons and full-span flaps to give angle of attack while the body is level for lifting the front for take-off.
  • 18. NASA Quiet Ducted Fan Study (UTRC)
    Noise is reduced from 105 dB to 77 dB (Ref. FAR Part 36, App. G36.301, 88 dB max.) “Neighbor-friendly” and less cabin noise fatigue.
  • 19. An example of a fan by Aero Composites
    (NASA Personal Air Vehicle Exploration Program)
    The composite structure provides unlimited fatigue life.
    The StrongMobile fan may generate about 100 lbs. per sq. ft. of pressure over 6 sq. ft. ( 3 ft dia.) for 600 lbs. of thrust.
  • 20. Eggenfellner Subaru Conversion
    Others: Converted Mazda rotary by Atkins, Mistral, or Powersport
  • 21. Fan Clutch, Locator, and Thrust Structure
  • 22. Ducted Fan & Front Wheel Design
    Design melds the ducting for the fan with the front wheels.
  • 23. Inboard Profile & Cross-Sections
  • 24. “Magic” Wing Conversion System
  • 25. “Magic” Conversion Concepts
    Wing Stowage Bay Doors,
    Rear View,
    Left Side
  • 26. Warp Action Spoiler Plate Ailerons
  • 27. Wheel Retraction & Extension
  • 28. Primary Control System
    The steering wheel (1) is for driving; it is semi-stowable for flying. The center “T” stick (2) is for pitch and roll control with trim for flying. Flight throttle (3) and mic button is on left door. Road and fan gear shift (4) is for driving. Accelerator pedal and foot brake pedal (5,6) are on the floor as usual. Rudder pedals (7) are stowable for driving.
  • 29. Instrument & Control Panel
  • 30. Airplane
  • 31. Automobile
  • 32. Shorter Take-Off and Landing Version
  • 33. STOL-port
  • 34. Four-seat/Cargo Version
    Operators may choose to use two Dragons for many jobs that require four seat capacity or use the four-seat version; however, the design and development of the four-seat version is considered to be a challenging venture.
  • 35. SpeeDragon
    A concept for those who have a need for higher cruising speed.
  • 36.
  • 37. Road Mode
  • 38. Current Airplane InconveniencesMay Be Eliminated in StrongMobile
    expense of hangaring;
    handling tie-downs and chocks;
    tow bars and towing machines;
    using step-stools to check fuel quantity;
    using steps and handholds for entry and exit;
    only one cabin door, noisy, narrow cabins;
    steering while taxiing with foot pedals;
    left and right brake pedals;
    complex engine & propeller displays and controls;
    potentially lethal propeller; and
    need for rental cars for local transportation.
  • 39. Recap of Requirements and Features
    • Automobile-type lifting body and suspension;
    • 40. Modified COTS automotive engine & road drive;
    • 41. Automated transformation in minimum time;
    • 42. Quiet fan with clutch and vectored jetwash lift;
    • 43. Full-span flaps, spoiler ailerons, & fixed slats;
    • 44. [2-seat] Quarter-ton payload and fuel for 4+ hours;
    • 45. Fully retractable wheels and covers; and
    • 46. Range ~600 air miles, cruise ~ 140 knots.
  • 47. Safety, Compared to Other Lightplanes
    • Automobile braking, steering, & 4-wheel stability decrease risk of over-run or flip-over;
    • 48. Ducted fan gives: less risk of injuries; governing; more static thrust; vectored lift jets; quieter ops;
    • 49. Simpler automobile engine controls;
    • 50. Lifting body & full-span flaps cushion landings, slats decrease risk of stall; alpha gauge; and
    • 51. When weather turns bad or plans change, option to drive home from alternate airport , or drive to alternate airport with good weather for take-off.
  • 52. Automobile & Airplane Safety
    Many people put a priority on safety, so they look at the U. S. historical data what shows vehicles have about 1.54 fatal accidents per 100 million miles driven, as compared to 22 fatal accidents per million hours flown in "general aviation". If you figure that airplanes average 150 miles per hour, then general aviation airplanes have a rate of 14 fatal accidents per 100 million miles flown, about 1 per 7 lifetimes.
    So, you can conclude that driving is about 10 times safer than flying. However, flying StrongMobiles may be much safer in contrast to "general aviation", when you consider their safety features.
  • 53.                                                                      
    The wing slat is considered to be important because many accident investigation reports blame wing stalls during landing approach as a common cause that can be easily reduced or eliminated. The action of plain versus slatted wings is illustrated. The left diagram describes stalling action . The right diagram shows the effect of slats for reducing stall.
  • 54. Flying vs. Driving: Safety & Efficiency
    No impaired drivers
    No bad roads nor construction zones
    No debris or obstructions nor natural barriers
    No congestion or speed limits
    No HAZMAT trucks
    Unforecast icing
    Turbulence and shear
    Fog and low ceilings
    Gusty cross-winds
    Slippery runways
    Nav-Comm Radios
    Medical Exams
    Flight Training
  • 55. Example Hazard Report
    1. SYST./SUBSYST/UNIT: Operations in fan mode with objects/ birds.
    2. COMPNT. FAIL MODE: Pilot fails to see and avoid objects/ creatures in time.
    3. SUBSYST.FAIL MODE: Objects ingested into fan cause damage, failure.
    4. SYST./COMP./PHASE: Airport and flight operations in fan mode.
    5. SYSTEM EVENT/PHAS: Taxi, take-off, and landing plus birds during cruise.
    6. SYST.OPER.DESCRPN: taxi, take-off, and landing and cruise flight.
    7. HAZARD DESCRIPTN.: Fan ingests objects/ creatures into fan duct.
    8. HAZARD INDICATION: Objects may be seen in time for avoidance.
    9. EFFECT OF HAZARD : Impact damage to fan, aircraft, various damages.
    10. RISK ASSESSMENT : Potential for various failures, loss of control.
    11. RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Pilot scans ahead and avoids objects/ creatures.
    12. ACTION EFFECTS : Eliminates hazard.
    13. REMARKS/DOCS/DIRS: Fixed Base Operator keeps surfaces clear.
    15. NOTE/CAUTION/WARN: Include a WARNING in Pilot Operating Handbook.
  • 56. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
    Does a StrongMobile operator need to have a pilot’s license? Answer: Yes, plus a medical certificate, etc..
    Won’t average drivers have more accidents if they fly? Answer: No. “Average” drivers likely will not qualify; medical, legal, and instructors report that 2/3 of students wash out.
    Won’t aircars be a danger to folks and property on the ground? Answer: Yes; there will always be some risk; less than usual.
    Aren’t aircars inherently too heavy, compared to airplanes? Answer: The StrongMobile designs are adequate for the specific operations that they are designed for.
    Can I take-off and land on public highways? Answer: NO! Consider obstructions, distractions, instrument aids, weather, and FAA rules.
  • 57. Learning And Problem-Solving, LAPS, Record RECNO:1
    About:Date:HazBen RecId:
    DB File: Rec.Id:1PrevRecId:TXT:PrsId:
    SS File: Col-Row:Budget Item:WrkRecId:
    Line / Sub-Item:Phase:Chek#:
    1. Diverger/ Idea Generators choose a goal and distinguish it from Reality.
    a. Goals / Increase aero performance to save time and extend range
    b. Real Operation ____:cruise speed of 120 knots
    c. Suggest / Concern_ reduce aero drag
    2. aSIMmilators identify factor, metric, select problem to be solved.
    a. Problem/ Suggest _ retract wheels
    b. Select-increase climb rate and cruise speed
    c. Select-CON _______added cost of equipment and maintenance
    3. Converger/ Optimizers/ Judges consider solutions and evaluate them.
    a. Solution Set_______:partially retract wheels
    b. Evaluation use cost of 10% of fuel, $2000 per year, $2,000 to install.
    c. Recommendations _:mockup, weigh, and test
    4. Worker/ Accomodator/ Implenters select one solution and implement it.
    a. Solution Selected__:
    b. Implementation ___
    c. Recommendations_ :
  • 58. Financial Model 1 – Start-Up
    Development may commence whenever the trend of deposits shows confidence that sufficient deposits will be made to pay for development costs that are estimated to be around $20M. This plan will require about 1,000 deposits.
    Given the usual schedule required for similar airplane developments, it is estimated that about three years will be required to set up for production.
    Deliveries may begin ~ 2010.
    If you wish to reserve a position for your StrongMobile on the production schedule, then make a non-refundable deposit of $19,000 minimum to TACRA. Deposits will be put into escrow accounts as certificates of deposit until 100 are received or until the end of 2007. If 100 deposits are not received by the end of 2007, then those that have been received will be returned to the depositors.
  • 59. Financial Model - 2 for 2-Seat Version
    The finances of the three main players in the scenario may be:
    Maker: Develops aircar - invests $20M @ 12% for 20 years startup; Produces 2,000 units per year at unit cost of $75,000 ( ~$150M); Produces parts for maintenance and repair and accessories; Sells units and parts for 15% net after-tax profit (~$30M); and Sets up dealer/buyer financing at 10%, earning 10%-prime of ~6%.
    Dealer/Lessor: Sets up sales and service, training, and leasing; Purchases X aircars for $100,000 at 10% interest for 20 years with monthly payments of ~$2,000X; Leases aircars for 1,200 hours per year, at $160 per flight hour; Pays operation and maintenance of $75/hour $7,500 per month each; Pays for facility, employees, ~$4,000 per month per each X aircar; Earns profit $16,000 - $7,500 - $2,000 - $4,000 = $2,500/month each; Performs service/maintenance/repair as required; and Operates training and building center.
  • 60. Financial Model - 3
    - Owner buys on $160,000, 20-year 6% loan for $1,600 per month; or- Lessee leases for $160 per hour/ $16,000 per month to lessees; - Users average wrap-around cost plus business profit of $100 per hour for each of two, flying 6+ hrs/day, 24 hrs/ wk, 100 hrs/ month; - Cost avoidance of $200 per hour for each flight hour, based on standard mission, $20,000 per month, less $3,500 fuel, saving :
    $16,500 personnel - $16,000 buy/lease = $ 500/mo. cost avoidance.
    NOTE: Figures are for the two-seat version. For four-seat version, cost may be increased by 50% and benefits by 100%.
    Other factors such as prestige, business opportunities, safety, security, and control of schedule and destinations.
  • 61. The Air-Car Research Association, TACRA Performance, Equipment, & Price, “PEP”, Survey
    Basic Dragon has SRS, A/C, power steering & brakes, ABS, transaxle, fixed-pitch fan w/ clutch, fixed wheels, and speed cruise control.
    Price for: a. kit: $____k b. Factory-built: $____k c. Rent/hr: $_____
    If you want more, enter how much more and how much you would pay.
    1. Over 10 yrs service life? Yrs; ____ Pay: $___k
    2. Over 10,000 Flight hours; ____ kfh Pay: $____k
    3. Over 120,000 Road Miles: _____kmi Pay: $____k
    4. Four-place version Pay: $_____k
    5. Over 195 lb. Pilot & passenger (s) weight?: _____ lbs. Pay: $____k
    6. STOL version: $____k Anti-icing system: $___k
    7. Over 66 lb. per occupant baggage weight?: ______ lbs. Pay: $____k
    8. Rotary engine -Pay: $___k 9. Over 360 nm Range: _____ Pay: $____k
    10. Over 140 KTAS cruise speed: _____KTAS Pay: $____k
    11. Over 12,000 ft. ceiling: ____,000 ft. Pay: $_____k
    12. Autopilot - Pay: $_____k 13. Retract wheels - Pay: $ ____k
    14. Controllable-pitch fan: $______k 15. Cabin Press - Pay: $ ____k
  • 62. Plan A as of 2005
    • 2006 – Cadre Team, chassis and propulsion testing;
    • 63. 2007 - Design, Build, and Test Driveable Prototype; 2008 – Design, Build, and Test Flight Prototype;
    • 64. 2009 - Design Plans, Kits for Homebuilder Teams;
    • 65. 20?? - Series Production by Teams, Manufacturers
    • 66. The inventor will welcome any producers to lead the next phase of building the prototype and production versions of StrongMobiles for a market of thousands of operators avoiding millions of wasted hours of ‘windshield time’ on the highway or changing modes that could be used for more profitable activities with potential for a billion-dollar industry within a decade.
  • 67. Outreach Activities Website: Over 10,000 visits per year, mostly unknown, but zero feedback.
    Presentations and ads to associations
    StrongMobile Project CD and book
  • 68.
  • 69. Conclusion and Forecast
    The StrongMobile preliminary design and business plan indicate that the project is feasible for further development, production, and operation to satisfy a potential market of thousands of users.
    Main questions are:
    Whowill do it?; and
    Whenwill it be done ?
  • 70. The inventor at his favorite pastime of simulating driving and flying in the mockup.