The Weekly Sedition

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Moller Skycar, RIP ?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — weeklysedition @ 6:56 PM

I took a quick look at Victor Milan’s Sense of Adventure blog, and found a link to this article — Is It Over for the Moller Skycar?. This is NOT good news.

According to the article, Moller International has been losing cash recently, to the tune of 80K last quarter, and almost half a million in Q1 2008. The cited causes for the delays in getting the M400 into production are technical, related to its eight rotary engines and its internal computers. 

ARGH. This sucks. Flying cars would be cool to have, and would eliminate lots of traffic jams that presently occur on the roads today. Burt Rutan said during an interview about SpaceShipOne, “Any animal that can fly does” and that if every car presently on the roads were replaced with some sort of flying vehicle, there would be enough room for a mile of separation between each of them.

This situation faced by Moller International does have a historical precedent. I was watching a Military Channel show last night about helicopters. According to the show, after “World War II,” Sikorsky and others wanted to get into the personal helicopter market, with the aim of choppers replacing the family car. What shut them down, according to the narrator, was America’s regulatory state.

Even if Moller International does go belly-up, there are other people working on the problem. I recently saw an episode of Dragon’s Den on BBC America. One of the presenters was Simon Scott of Kestrel Aerospace, and Scott was pitching his company’s Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) to the “Dragons.”

Now Kestrel’s PAV might be just another pipe dream, just as some have alleged about the M400. Both the PAV and the M400 might never work for practical purposes. That’s not the point. The fact that two different people saw a problem that needed solving and got to work on it means that chances are that others will see the same problem, and someone will solve it.

Unless the regulatory agencies get in the way first.

UPDATE — The article that I cited above was dated 20 November 2007. At present, Moller International has pages on their site with purchasing and operating the M400. Perhaps I was premature in pronouncing the M400 dead.

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