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Kitty Hawk Conducts Flying Car Trials in Las Vegas

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【Summary】Although no piloting license is needed, participants must first complete basic flight training, which takes roughly 90 minutes.

Michael Cheng    Jul 28, 2018 1:30 PM PT
Kitty Hawk Conducts Flying Car Trials in Las Vegas

In preparation for the flying car era, Kitty Hawk has been facilitating trials in New Zealand and the US. In the latter country, the startup was recently showcased conducting tests in Las Vegas. 

Kitty Hawk is testing its recreational aircraft, the Flyer, at the site, which seats a single passenger. Training for participants start with classroom modules and computerized stimulations. Afterwards, take off, landing and emergency procedures (interestingly includes training for exiting the aircraft safely in the event of a crash landing on water) are exercised inside a real unit.

Testing over Lakes

At the moment, trials for the flying car are not open to the public. Kitty Hawk has only allowed investors and founding members of the startup to ride in the unit. Although no piloting license is needed, individuals must first complete basic flight training, which takes roughly 90 minutes. Controls for altitude and direction are provided by a switch and joystick inside the cabin.

According to flight instructors, the aircraft is easier to operate, compared to a traditional car. This is most likely due to less obstructions to watch out for in the air. Trials are currently conducted over lakes, as the unit is equipped with amphibious capabilities.

"I bought a ticket to space and now I bought a Flyer," said Carter Reum, a Kitty Hawk investor.

"You think, ‘flying vehicle, flying hover craft, oh man, this is going to be so complicated. I walked in and thought I could've taken this Flyer out in two minutes because it was so intuitive and so simple."

At the site, Kitty Hawk is testing five flying cars. With 15 flight trainers at the facility, participants are allowed to fly the aircraft at a maximum height of 10 feet, while traveling at a maximum speed of 6 mph. For stability and VTOL flight maneuvers, the giant quadcopters feature 10 propellers.

Kitty Hawk's Flyer is currently one of three flying cars being developed under Larry Page. The other two units include Cora, a two-seater aircraft for commercial flight, and BlackFly, another ultralight unit with rugged features.

Ultralight Aircraft Classification

Initially, when the idea of flying cars was introduced, many individuals were concerned about compliance with certification and registration, as the units targeted mainstream consumers without experience or knowledge about operating aircrafts.

In order to circumvent such challenges, some companies in the US have turned to the ultralight aircraft classification. This practice is ideal for recreational flying cars.

Understanding the standards of ultralight units may provide clarity about specific design measures applied to Kitty Hawk's aircrafts (technically referred to as ‘ultralight vehicles').

Firstly, a flying car with an ultralight classification only has one seat and should weigh less than 254 pounds, when powered. Moreover, the units do not have to be registered and cannot be utilized over official airspaces.

"Adopted July 30, 1982, effective on October 4 that same year, Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103 formally established what truly is recreational flight," cited the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) on its website.

"Part 103 established limits on size, performance, and configuration and also established that people flying them needed no certificate or medical qualification."

 


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