Concept: SureFly Designer: Workhorse Odds of Production: It Might Be Seen in 2019
Small owner-operator aircraft have long been plagued by safety concerns, and a few recent high-profile incidents have further cast a pall over the segment. Recognizing this consumer anxiety, Ohio company Workhorse has created a two-seat helicopter concept with a focus on safety. The comfortingly named SureFly (expected to cost $200,000) is more akin to a drone than a helicopter, with eight propellers, operating as contrarotating pairs, affixed to four struts. Each propeller is powered by its own motor, providing plenty of redundancy in case of a problem. If the main engine generating electricity for the motors fails, a backup battery system provides enough time to land safely. When all options are exhausted, the aircraft has an emergency ballistic parachute. The copter is Intended for quick hops; a full tank will keep it in the air for about an hour and allow it to travel as far as 70 miles. It also boasts a 4,000-foot flight ceiling and a maximum speed of 70 mph. Workhorse built the fuselage and props from lightweight carbon fiber, helping the copter carry up to 400 pounds—the pilot and either a passenger or cargo. The SureFly can also be flown autonomously, so it could instead transport 400 pounds’ worth of cargo. While the company had intended to make its first public flight in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, the plan was scrubbed due to weather. At the time of publication, a follow-up attempt had not yet been scheduled, but the company plans to begin production in 2019.