Cargo plane approach to the flying car

Discussion in 'Aircraft Design / Aerodynamics / New Technology' started by cluttonfred, Mar 8, 2013.

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  1. Mar 8, 2013 #1

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

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    The late French designer Marcel Jurca is best know for his aerobatic sportplanes and replica WWII warbirds, but he also designed this odd little beastie, the MJ.54 Silas (also called Tegas, not sure why) a spacious four-seater with a rear loading ramp capable of carrying a two people and tiny microcar.

    Jurca MJ54 Silas.jpg

    Now that category of "car without a license" is essentially a four-wheeled moped with a top speed under 30 mph which weights under 900 lbs with a full fuel tank and about 300 mile range. Such cars don't exist in the USA and the low-speed electric vehicles that fulfill a similar role are much heaver. And I will readily admit that the MJ.54 is an uncharasterically hideous plane from the pen of same man who designed the MJ.2 Tempete and many other lovely designs. But the concept seems sound.

    I have seen schemes for transporting motorcycles in belly pods on both experimental and certified planes, but what about designing a homebuilt plane to carry your ground transportation from the get go. I could a design in the spirty of the MJ.54 able to fold up all but the pilot and front passenger seats and carry your ground transport as cargo instead. A four-seater could give up two seats for 500 lbs of cargo, which won't get you a car but will get you a couple of mopeds or scooters or a modest two-passenger scooter or motorcycle and some baggage. A six-seater could give up four seats and carry as much as 1,000 lbs of cargo which would get you one cruising motorcycle, two modest motorcycles maybe one of the great Russian Ural or Indian Enfield motorcycles with sidecars. Of course, electric vehicles would be even better -- no fuel to worry about -- if they are light enough.

    What does everyone thing? What are some ways to tackle such a miniature cargo plane to bring along your own ground transportation? Here are a few images to provide some food for thought:

    Cheers,

    Matthew
     

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  2. Mar 8, 2013 #2

    ultralajt

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    Topspeed.. sorry.. Matthew, you never get out of ideas about new interesting odd plane layout? ;)
     
  3. Mar 8, 2013 #3

    Jay Kempf

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    Wow. Thanks for sharing that one. I have personally never seen a picture or heard of that plane. Really nice idea in terms of unlimited travel. ​
     
  4. Mar 8, 2013 #4

    cluttonfred

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    The point was not the layout but the mission--how would you carry 4-6 people or, alternatively, two people and their ground transportation?
     
  5. Mar 8, 2013 #5

    Dana

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    On a somewhat larger note, the Short Skyvan was specifically to carry vehicles of the VW Microbus size...

    -Dana

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  6. Mar 8, 2013 #6

    autoreply

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    The Tata Nano, Lotus Elise and Smart come to mind as some of the lightest production cars. All of them are 600+ kg's, so simply far too heavy for any affordable aircraft.

    That IMHO only leaves motorbikes. A basic 600 cc bike is far less than 200 kg and within the realm of an affordable plane. There was an (Italian, recent?) aircraft with double fins and a rear door that was close to ideal for a motorbike in the rear.
     
  7. Mar 9, 2013 #7

    thump

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    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  8. Mar 9, 2013 #8

    cluttonfred

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    Three-wheel vehicles offer an interesting compromise that might be useful for this application, from kits like the Pembleton Grasshopper to the new one from Elio Motors, a start-up company setting up production in an old GM plant in Louisiana. The interesting point for this discussion is that many of three-wheelers weigh substantially under 1,000 pounds--the Pembleton, for example, can be built under 700 pounds.

    6942343949_2f298e663f_z.jpg Elio-Motors-shot11.jpg
     
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  9. Mar 9, 2013 #9

    autoreply

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    In that case, I'd design one myself. Something like the Acabion:


    But then redesigned for low weight, small dimensions and reasonable power.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2019
  10. Mar 9, 2013 #10
  11. Mar 9, 2013 #11

    jedi

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    I will say again, why would anybody want to go 300 mph on the ground? At that speed you can fly and do not have to worry about hitting things.
     
  12. Mar 9, 2013 #12

    cluttonfred

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    The first two links didn't work for me, but other than some light tanks parachuted from cargo planes or literally dropped off the ramp of cargo planes at low altitude, the only system that I am aware of ever being used in combat is the Hamilcar glider with the tank INSIDE the fuselage as cargo.

     
  13. Mar 14, 2013 #13

    bmcj

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    Except maybe UAV drones.
     
  14. Mar 14, 2013 #14

    oriol

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    The cargo plane for small vehicles approach reminds a lot to WWII cargo gliders, as from what I red about them It was imposible to fly those gliders empty, with no ballast.
    Maybe a two floor solution, something like the old Sikorsky S55 helicopter, can work to solve the center and ballance issue.

    As AR allready pointed out, even an average "small" car seems too heavy to result in an affordable airplane.


    Oriol

    glider1.jpg glider2.jpg s55.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  15. Mar 14, 2013 #15

    psween

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    Wasn't Dean Wilson's Global Explorer originally intended to carry a broken down Robinson R22 in the back? Seem to remember reading that some where. If so, substitute a couple of motorcycles or a small two seat car and you might be there.

    Patrick
     
  16. Mar 15, 2013 #16

    PTAirco

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    I read it was an Avid Flyer, with its wings folded.

    Perhaps one approach would be to integrate both airframe and car design, so one fits into the other perfectly with no compromises. I kind of package deal. I certainly believe you can make a purpose designed two seat car under 600lbs or so.
     
  17. Mar 16, 2013 #17

    cluttonfred

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    How about the 200 lb, two-seat Peel Trident? It's really just an enclosed electric scooter, but its road-legal in the UK and USA and will go 80 miles at 30 mph or 60 miles at 80 mph. Perfect!

    trident (smaller).jpg

    At only 6' long and 3' 6" wide, it would be possible to design a fuselage in which the car loaded up a ramp from the side, which would help the CG variation with and without load. The cost is a bit steep at about $16,000, but it would certainly be possible to take a moped like the Honda Ruckus and make an enclosed, homebuilt two-seater along the same lines. With a 49cc gas engine and three wheels, it would still be considered a scooter in most places, though you might be required to wear a helmet.

    2012-honda-ruckus_600x0w.jpg

    The interesting thing for me about such light vehicles for getting to and from the airfield is the possibility doing this kind of cargo/car combination even within LSA regs. Let's do the math--pilot and passenger 360 lbs, enclosed scooter 200 lbs, baggage 40 lbs, 100 lbs (16 gals) fuel, that makes 700 lbs, so we'd need an empty weight of just 620 lbs--challenging but doable in a very Spartan design. Without the little car there would be 200 lbs available for camping equipment and enough space to sleep inside the fuselage. It would be an LSA equivalent of Dean Wilson's Private Explorer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
  18. Mar 17, 2013 #18

    freerangequark

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    Matthew,

    I'm the one making the motorcycle pods so I certainly like your line of thought. Most production airplanes have 4 seats and there are rarely more than two people on board. For a majority of flights, it is possible to carry two people, a street-legal motorcycle and a bit of luggage.

    There are a lot of opportunities for improvement if the airplane is designed from scratch to carry the motorcycle. I've done some preliminary design work with this but I'm struggling with the business model... spending $100+ million to develop and certify a particularly specialized airplane. I think it is a safer investment to design airplanes that can haul all sorts of bulky cargo, including motorcycles. For the moment, my business is focused on solutions for existing airplanes.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2019
  19. Mar 17, 2013 #19

    cluttonfred

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    Nice to hear from you. Yes, I have seen your pod and it certainly seems like a novel solution, but I am more interested what could be done if starting from scratch to find the combination of aircraft and ground vehicle that together make the most sense. As I mentioned above, keeping the ground transportation down around 200 lbs opens up the possibility of using this concept even at LSA weights. I am sure you've done a lot of research on this kind of thing and I wonder what you would suggest among the lightest possible two-seaters?

    Quite honestly, even the ability to take a couple of full-size mountain bikes or perhaps electrically-boosted bikes and be able to load and unload them quickly and easily might do the trick in many cases. I can imagine, for example, an LSA configured like the old Boeing YL-15 liaison plane but with side-by-side seating and the rear of the "pod" used to carry bikes, luggage, even camping gear.

    5383L.jpg

     
  20. Mar 18, 2013 #20

    N15KS

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    You have to watch what they mean by "road-legal." In the US, it is a motor driven cycle and generally banned from highways and interstates. Unfortunately, each state and city has the authority to regulate motor driven cycles differently. For example, the Peel Trident would be illegal in the state of Nevada because they only allow up to 2hp. You might consider driving one of these around your own town after verifying that it is legal there. However, you couldn't fly to new places with any firm expectation of being allowed to use it. For aviation use, it is better to use something that is classified as a motorcycle and consistently regulated at the federal level.
     

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