Tired of things with wings, or rotors? Looking for something different to fly? Try the Volocopter. Germany's e-Volo has completed the first prototype of its unconventional vertical take-off and landing VC200 and plans to fly the hybrid-electric two-seater by the end of this year.
The Volocopter is different enough that Germany is developing a new ultralight rotorcraft category for the vehicle, which has 18 propellers individually driven by electric motors. These are mounted on a fixed branching structure above the cabin. An internal-combustion engine rechanges the batteries in flight to extend range.
With a 450kg maximum take-off weight, the VC200 is designed for a cruise speed of at least 54kt, at altitudes up to 6,500ft, and a flight time of at least an hour. Flight control is fly-by-wire and accomplished by individually controlling the speed of the fixed-pitch props. E-volo says the Volocopter will be able to land safely with several motors failed.