Personal aircraft seem like a pretty good metric against which to measure the future. Can you shrug on a backpack and fly across a city? Can you pick up a personal air-taxi? Probably the future. Inventor Tarek Ibrahim talked to Gizmag about upcoming test flights for the Airvinci, a single-rotor helicopter the size of a big backpack, with space for one pilot.
The first stage of the experimental program will be to test the Airvinci as simply a drone, not a human-carrying backpack: taking the seat component out leaves one with a ducted fan, fixed pitch rotor drone that can carry cargo. The company is currently completing the final versions of the rotor, rotor hub, and control surfaces. Assembly of the prototype is expected to begin in about two weeks.
Their major competitor is Martin Jetpacks, which is working on a personal aircraft with two rotors. The Airvinci team said that they plan to market their drone and backpack-copter combination to first responders, pilots, and shipping companies. With a proposed weight capacity of 265 lb., they could carry more than the proposed, indefinitely delayed Amazon drones.
Airvinci’s personal jetpack has a planned altitude capability of 12,500 ft, making it potentially appealing for skydivers who could launch themselves from their own drone and have it autonomously meet them on the ground. The prototype engines have around 28 hp and a 7 ft rotor.
Like the Amazon drone and its fleet of eager competitors, the Airvinci will have to contend with FAA regulations and restrictions designed to prevent dangerous operation of aircraft in heavily populated areas. The company plans to begin testing a prototype capable of carrying a person in 2017.