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New sport skycars developed

January 31, 2012, 08:55 am

Moller International recently completed the initial design phase for two new skycars that could qualify for the Federal Aviation Administration's light sport aircraft category.

Moller believes the introduction of the light sport aircraft category by the FAA has paved the way for innovation and creativity in the U.S. aviation industry. Moller said producing the aircraft to fit the criteria has proved to be less costly, allowing the company to lower its operational costs while advancing its technology and capabilities. To operate a light sport aircraft, pilots must have a sports pilot certificate, rather than the more difficult to obtain pilot's license. Once they obtain their licence, many pilots will also purchase pilot insurance as an added protection against any mishaps in the air.

"Our simple and effective method to achieve high-speed VTOL in a small, light weight aircraft has the potential to have very low initial operating and maintenance costs," says Bruce Calkins, Moller International's General Manager. "Our Skycar 400 has huge potential in the personal transportation market, and we hope to bring the smaller, more affordable LS series on line quicker and easier."

According to Moller, the new criteria created for light sport aircrafts from the FAA allowed the company to create a new design program that combines take off and landing abilities of its older skycars with new requirements for the category.

While airplane manufacturers are creating new breeds of planes, organizations are working to maintain aging carriers as well. The National  Institute for Aviation Research is working with virtual reality technology and reverse engineering to allow aging planes to remain useful by re-creating replacement parts for aircrafts that are hard to find. Researchers and lab associates at the National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita, Kansas, are using reverse engineering to create a computerized design for aircraft parts based on existing parts of pieces of equipment, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Using a sophisticated laser scanner, associates can create thousands of points or locations on a specific part that will be used to build a 3D computerized design. The technology can scan both simple and complex pieces, allowing engineers to build new parts based on the digital blueprints. Through rapid prototyping, a special machine builds a prototype of the party layer by layer, and then recreates the piece's flexibility and movement. The parts are then tested in a virtual environment before they are created for airplane repairs, the source reported.

John Tomblin, executive director of the NIAR, told the source that the older aircrafts have aged drawings that are outdated and difficult to work with.

"If you want to go change a part or you want to change an aluminum part into a composite part, you have to go back to the drawing," Tomblin said. "When you go back to the drawing, you have complications of converting a 2D to a 3D."

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