Xplorair Concept

The Xplorair is a project of compact VTOL aircraft without rotating airfoil from aerospace engineer Michel Aguilar, funded by the French Armed Forces procurement agency DGA and supported by various European aeronautics firms such as Dassault Systèmes, ex EADS Innovation Works (AIRBUS Innovation now), MBDA, Altran Technologies, Sogeti, Turbomeca, COMAT Aerospace and the Institut Pprime. Announced in 2007, the project aims to develop a UAV prototype scheduled for flight in 2019, followed by a singleseater flying car whose commercialization could occur the decade after.

The Xplorair is a personal air vehicle (PAV). The term "flying car" is often used by authors and journalist referring to the Xplorair project. While it is true that the vehicle has the same rough size as an automobile and is intended to be flown in the future above cities by anyone with a driver's license (thanks to a fully automated, SATS-like flight mode and ground stations, it has no wheels (but only to park) and won't be driven on roads as a roadable aircraft like the Terrafugia TF-X. Nevertheless the Xplorair is capable of VTOL and stationary flight operation whereas the Terrafugia needs more than 500 metres for take-off and landing.

This idea is not really new :

ACG AViation Voiture Volante Paris
ACG AViation Voiture Volante Paris

 

Another project of VTOL flying car that doesn't need roads is the Moller M400 Skycar. But unlike the Xplorair, the Moller skycar has rotating ducted fans powered by Wankel engines. But what about consomption ?

 

Xplorair PX200

The PX200 (Personal Xplorair 200 km/h) is the single-seater Xplorair model currently in development. A 1/2 scale model of the Xplorair PX200 was exhibited at Paris Air Show 2013. A radio-controlled flying full-scale model, including a seat but still unmanned, is scheduled for take-off at Paris Air Show 2019. The first manned prototype should be ready before 2020, then certified and brought to market before 2030 at a public price less than $100,000. Two-seater and four-seater models are also planned.

ACG Aviation Bourget 2013
ACG Aviation Bourget 2013

 

Main characteristics of the Xplorair PX200 :

Dimensions: 137" × 106" × 51" (3,50 × 2,70 m x 1,30 meters)

Total Weight (fuel & pilot): 770 lb (350 kg)

Cruise speed: 125 mph (200 km/h)

Maximum speed: 450 mph

Cruise altitude: < 9,000 feet

Range: 500 miles (800 km)

Fuel economy: 30 miles per US gallon

Use of biofuel from algaculture. Other fuels could be used, like kerosene, methane, hydrogen.

Use of eco-friendly materials, in particular natural fiber (bamboo, linen…)

 

Early developments

In 2002, French aerospace engineer Michel Aguilar, then 52 years old, retired from DGA to work as a full-time independent contractor on his Xplorair project, a VTOL aircraft where the common rotating airfoils (like propellers, rotors or ducted fans) are replaced by a new type of small jet engine directly fitted within wing's body, the Thermoreactor©. The aircraft would rely a lot on the Coandă effect for vertical take-off, increased lift and reduced drag.

A four-seater scale model was presented at Paris Air Show 2007. The year after, Aguilar founded the nonprofit organization Xplorair in order to gain expertise from specialized engineering consulting firms.

 

ACG Aviation Xplorair Militaire
ACG Aviation Xplorair Militaire

 

ACG Aviation Xplorair Vitesse Maxi
ACG Aviation Xplorair Vitesse Maxi