Yet Another Roadable Aircraft

Yet another roadable aircraft or flying car? Yes, but the Model 367 BiPod [source: gizmag] is different because of who designed and built it. Burt Rutan - of SpaceShipOne fame - retired earlier this year from legendary prototype aircraft maker Scaled Composites. His last project was a hybrid-powered road and air vehicle. The twin fuselage, a signature design feature of many Scaled Composites airplanes, makes for a uniquely odd looking car design. One cockpit controls the vehicle while on the ground and the other cockpit controls the vehicle while in flight.

Another unique feature of the vehicle is a hybrid power system that uses electrical motors to decouple the two internal combustion engines (one in each fuselage) from the propeller and wheel locations. For takeoff the vehicle also has a set of lithium booster batteries. Up to now the vehicle has been undergoing ground-based testing with a few airborne 'hops.' Nothing more ambitious can be tried until the propeller is fitted. A tentative first powered flight is scheduled for March 2012.

The Model 367 BiPod is unlikely to find its way into production to compete with the Transition from Terrafugia. However, Scaled Composites says that the idea of decoupling the engine from the propeller location frees designers to consider novel aircraft configurations.