Sky Traffic: Top 7

Sky Traffic: Top 7
Photo: Prototypes of Civil Air Transport, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

People gaze into the sky not just to count stars or clouds, forecast weather, or daydream. The sky, like an unbounded transportation highway, has always fascinated and continues to intrigue humanity. But can people finally travel through the air wherever they please and at their own will in the 21st century?

This very possibility is now offered by air mobiles, jetpacks, and even drones capable of carrying human weight. In these troubling times of heightened tensions amid the emergence of a new global Axis of Evil, already characterized by many politicians as a “pre-war era,” the ownership of the skies of the near future depends solely on consolidated actions of united democratic forces. Will it belong to today’s futuristic concepts and prototypes of civil air transport, or to killing machines?

MTOSport 2017

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For nearly 20 years in the German town of Hildesheim, there has existed a company manufacturing gyroplanes, aircraft that combine the properties of airplanes and helicopters and are also allowed to travel on roads. AutoGyro has already assembled over 2300 units. The most popular model, the MTOSport 2017, received the prestigious Red Dot Design Award almost immediately after its premiere. There is even a version, the MTOnautic, for traveling on water and above water. In addition to accommodating two passengers who will feel comfortable in the salon seats, the gyroplane can lift up to 650 kg. The cost depends on the configuration and ranges from 60 to 80 thousand euros. The manufacturers also emphasize that due to the large fleet of existing units, there will be no problems with obtaining service support.

PAL-V The Liberty

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This year, Dutch development has a chance to appear in the air and on the roads, as it is approved for both road licenses and runway takeoffs and landings. The body design, executed by an Italian design bureau, allows transformation from a fairly compact urban car into a gyroplane in just seconds. The tail unfolds from the trunk, and petals of the main propeller appear from the roof. The whole procedure resembles the movement of a beetle when it opens its wings, stands on its legs, and takes off. The developers promise that the control will be very simple and safe. They invite people to familiarize themselves, join the FlyDrive Academy, or at least visit showrooms in the Netherlands, Munich, or London. Financial confidence wouldn’t hurt either, as the planned cost of the flying sportscar, capable of covering distances of up to 500 kilometers, will reach 399 thousand euros.

Klein Vision AirCar

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Slovak designer and engineer Stefan Klein embarked on the development of flying cars back in the late 1980s. Klein Vision AirCar was created in collaboration with his colleague Anton Zajac, with its maiden flight taking place in October 2020. Styled like a sports coupe with a transparent roof on the road, AirCar is equipped with folding wings and elongated tail beams with a high tail for flight. A pusher propeller is fixed between the fuselage and the tail assembly, where a safety parachute is also located. The construction comprises a semi-monocoque of carbon fiber on a steel frame (а monocoque (French: monocoque) is a type of structural design in which, unlike frame or truss constructions, the outer shell serves as the primary and usually the sole load-bearing element. A semi-monocoque or reinforced monocoque is a construction in which the loads are borne by both the external thin-shell and a structural framework supporting it (stringers, bulkheads). Over 20 programmed servo motors are utilized to transition between road and air configurations.

The rigorous flight tests successfully completed by AirCar encompassed a full spectrum of flight and operational maneuvers, demonstrating remarkable static and dynamic stability akin to that of an aircraft, with almost sports car-like properties. As of 2023, AirCar has accumulated over 70 hours of test flights, completing 200 takeoffs and landings. Watching the project’s Instagram videos makes it incredibly believable in terms of its reality and development potential.

What does this showcase about engineering talent? The overall power is provided by a serial 1.6-liter BMW engine with 139 horsepower. Perhaps Mr. Klein will release blueprints so that all enthusiasts could tune their cars in the same way?

Renault Air4

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This year, the giant Renault unveiled its version of a flying car, or rather, drew attention to the legendary model Le Quatrel, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2023. The industrial design bureau TheArsenal literally put it on screws. Air4 is not just a marketing stunt but an impressive engineering marvel, capable of taking off to 700 meters and reaching speeds of up to 94 km/h. At the Le Bourget air show and previous demonstrations, the vehicle, weighing only 200 kilograms, was controlled remotely. However, no certifications have been obtained yet to place a pilot behind the wheel or controls.

Jetson One

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A small company from Sweden has taken a more rational approach to the idea of a human-carrying drone. This development has already been certified, and what’s more, due to its remote and speedy capabilities, it doesn’t require pilots to have special certificates or knowledge of aviation. Essentially, it’s a toy or a sports tool, as its price of $90,000 makes it quite accessible for the development of a new spectacular motorsport. Safety systems and even a ballistic parachute allow pilots to experience sharp sensations without fatal injuries. With 8 electric motors, a sports cockpit frame, intuitive control, and a speed below 90 km/h, it’s not a bad set of features for a toy. It can ascend to a height of a few dozen meters, but developers believe that the main mode of transport will be at a distance of 4-5 meters from the ground. And there is one more very significant point for those already considering a future purchase: due to its weight of 115 kg, the device is unable to lift a pilot weighing more than 90 kg due to lack of thrust and balance. Sales are set to begin in 2024.

Jetpack Gravity

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Mastering the air is not such an easy task, and sitting behind the controls that lift a vehicle above the ground is still a dream from the realm of “something from the distant future,” it seems.

At Gravity School, a different and not so complicated path is offered. Using advanced teaching technology, students independently defy gravity on their first session with the help of a jetpack system, i.e., engines attached to the pilot’s back and arms. For safety, the first flight takes place with the pilot secured to beams on the launch pad. But there are quite a few videos on the Instagram account where novice pilots confidently navigate in the air over concrete surfaces, controlling themselves with navigation turbines. The first school was opened near London. Due to high demand in America, the second training facility started operating in Los Angeles. The initial course costs £1500 or $1950. It’s advisable to wear a tuxedo for the exam to resemble Sean Connery as James Bond in the movie Thunderball.

Punisher & Shark – Made in Ukraine

sky traffic: top 7Photo: Punisher, Source: UA Dynamics

Any war is not only about death and destruction but also about fostering significant advancements in weapon technologies, which then significantly alter the technological landscape of society in peacetime. One of the powerful symbols of the Russian-Ukrainian war undoubtedly became UAVs. Over nearly two and a half years of combat, they evolved at a frenetic pace from ordinary civilian drones, adapted for combat tasks, to full-fledged Ukrainian innovations, involving AI and cutting-edge global developments.

Currently, during the war, Ukrainian airspace is solely guarded by military developments of Ukrainian companies and enterprises, a list worthy of a separate extensive review. Here we have the reconnaissance drone “Leleka-100,” the exceptionally quiet strike drone Punisher from UA Dynamics, the long-range barrage munition UJ-26 “Beaver,” the reconnaissance UAV Shark, which is even capable of competing in task performance with the significantly more expensive ScanEagle drone from Boeing, and the heavy unmanned bomber “Vampire,” which has already been dubbed “Baba Yaga” by the frightened Russian occupiers.

sky traffic: top 7Photo: Shark, Source:

We can only guess how the development of this industry will impact the future of Ukrainian and global drone manufacturing technologies. But it is an undeniable fact that a powerful generation of specialists with extraordinary, scarcely available experience is currently emerging in Ukraine! Therefore, as soon as the war ends, Ukrainian professionals will become full-fledged players in the field of civil aviation. Even now, when the shortage of ammunition, missiles, and shells pushes Ukrainian engineering thought towards the development of reconnaissance and strike UAVs, Ukrainian innovations attract international investors, such as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The heights that Ukrainian engineering thought will reach after the victory in the war against Russian occupiers and how soon this will happen depend not only on Ukraine but also on the full and continuous support in the war from the entire civilized world. 

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