Short of the revolutionary Burt Rotan wild aircraft designs, airplanes have changed little over the past decades. Winged-cylinder with a propulsion system is how we travel through the air. Unless you have the astronomical budget the military enjoys to design hypersonic aircraft, not for the general public, the choice is simple — airplanes or helicopters. DeLorean Aerospace just announced that its DR7 should fly by the end of 2018. That would shake things up, but is it practical, viable, for real?
DeLorean Flies Us Back To The Future
In the 1980s, the DeLorean Motors Corporation gave us a break from the ho-hum cars sold everywhere by offering an aesthetically pleasing aerodynamic car. Eventually, DeLorean Aerospace picked up where its four-wheel parent left off, with a uniquely designed aircraft, the DR7. Although the name more or less gives it away, the company was founded in 2012 by Paul DeLorean, John DeLorean’s nephew. The mission was to develop a flying car.
The DR7 is designed to be a personal commuter aircraft. So far, a 1/3 scale full composite proof-of-concept aircraft has been tested successfully. In order to minimize the propeller hazards, the rotors have been enclosed. They are tilted downwards for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) launches and landings. They tilt horizontally to go forward. And all of this fits into a regular car garage.
To Make The DeLorean Aerospace DR7 Fly
Using a centerline twin vectoring propulsion system (CTV), the DR7 manages an aerodynamic shape with a small drag signature. The fuselage acts as an airfoil with stall-resistant canards, much as the Blackbird SR71 does for importance. It not only improves efficiency but increases low-speed stall resistance. With its dedicated thrust-vectoring fan system, it doesn’t need a rudder. Efficiency is high and higher cruising speeds are more possible than with normal VTOL designs.
The DeLorean DR7 will use a zero-emission electric power system paired with a lightweight platform. Slightly shorter than 20 feet in length, as written above, it will be enough to fit into a modern home garage. In order to do that, though, it will fold its 18.5-foot wings and shrink to 7.5-feet in width.
As far as cruising speed is concerned, the DeLorean DR7 should reach roughly 130 knots (150 mph, 241 km/h). Its top speed will be almost 210 knots (240 mph, 389 km/h) and its range is around 120 miles (193 km). Its monocoque composite fuselage has a tandem seating configuration.
[Warning: technical talk coming.] Using a CVT system has already been done before. Much like the XTI TriFan 600 uses a tilting ducted fan system, the DeLorean aircraft can achieve stability and forward momentum without tipping over. Much like The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, it can tilt its propeller system downward for lift and forward for horizontal flight. The tractor front fan and pusher rear fan level for flight condition and direct the thrust of the propellers 360 degrees. Since it uses two counter-spinning fans, it creates a gyroscopic effect that stabilizes the DR7 and offers a positive dampening effect. This also gives it roll and yaw control when it hovers and yaw in normal flight mode. [/ technical talk over]
DeLorean Aerospace Makes “Back To The Future” Look In Time
The number of VTOL aircraft and other personal flying car designs has been spectacular these past few years. We don’t expect all companies to end up flying us above traffic, but we certainly hope a few will end up with the right official credentials.
As to the price, you know what they say: If you need to ask, you probably won’t be able to afford it. The DeLorean DR7 is likely to set you back around $250,000–300,000.
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