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Old September 27th, 2018, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
They're still not going to takeoff and land on city streets or in parking lots.

Call 'em heliports, call 'em LZs, call 'em whatever you want. They're still going to use specific designated areas for safety and flight control reasons. The app on your phone will call one to a nearby "heliport", but it won't call on to the curb outside the bar.
Sorry, but I disagree vehemently. The consumer demand, once the availability is there, is going to be for curbside. And the FAA will get "informed" by the legislators to make it happen. (Much like Sport Pilot licensing - it wasn't the FAA's idea. Congress-critters told them to make it happen - at least according to late Sen. Ted Stevens - he didn't want to have to give up his license when he could no longer pass a flight physical. If you have a driver's license, you can get a sport pilot license. Did I mention I have spent several evenings drinking with Sen. Stevens.)

Plus, the guys making the aircar are also making it GPS & ladar autopilot-only, except for the last 15 feet of altitude. Also, nifty thing about thrust-lift - the last 10'-20' are the most efficient. Put turn signals on it, and drive it in ground effect, and it's the smoothest road-car around.

The primary reasons for heliports are that Rotors need extensive clearance both for operation and parking, and rotors are thunderously loud; ducted fans are far quieter, have a 0-clearance need, and are relatively quiet.

The airblast isn't all that bad, especially if it lands in street then pulls over while in ground effect. Add a plenum, and the outside air-blast is much reduced.

I don't know about elsewhere, but in Alaska one can actually get road-plates for a GEV. (I only know because I've seen them on one, going down the road in Kenai. Same kind of plates as snowmobiles.)

Uber's thing is a VTOL-plane - and that's going to need heliports, sure — noise factor alone, just like the V-22 Osprey — but once a personal air vehicle can land in a parking spot without waking up the neighborhood, political pressure will eliminate the heliport as a requirement.

Remember: it's rich and powerful folk who will be buying them, and they tend to get their political way in most systems.

The safety concessions might be an autopilot tied into central flight control. Essentially, FAA computer-run drones with passenger seats. The Chinese ehang passenger drone is already in use in China. 20 minutes/charge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCbGwxYiWug (company)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7Hm-rmLQcU (US NBC)
Not ducted, but duct those fans, you increase thrust and safety. (at a minor weight and hefty cost penalty)
NBC notes that Dubai is in fact going for a self-flying taxi service using these.
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