Civilian Half Helicopter Half Plane Could Change Travel

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The vertical take-off function could allow for transportation in the world’s busiest cities.

Travel technology has come a long way in the last century, but there haven’t been many new forms of transportation to develop. That is, until now. It was just revealed Italian aerospace and defense manufacturer Leonardo Company has almost completed the certification process for its AW609 tiltrotor, a half-plane half-helicopter aircraft.

This type of aircraft is currently used in a military setting and called a V-22. But now it would be made available for commercial use. So, airlines or transportation companies like Uber could use them to transport passengers within congested areas and between major cities. That’s because it has vertical lift-off capabilities like a helicopter with the ability to fly at 25,000 feet and distances of over 800 miles like a plane. So, trips between the heart of New York and Chicago or Seattle and San Francisco would be a breeze. 

Technology-wise, the AW609 is considered a tiltrotor aircraft. That means it can use its rotors to take off and land vertically and then adjust the direction of those rotors to transform it into a plane once airborne. The team also redesigned the interior to fit nine passengers comfortably, unlike the typical bare-bones military aircraft of this type. They were envisioning VIPs being transported between cities for business or to airports from business hubs in a matter of minutes. 

With speeds of 300 miles per hour, the AW609 can fly 800 miles in around two and a half hours. While that’s slower than a traditional airline, you make up for it in the fact that you’re going from the center of one city to another. And unlike a helicopter, the aircraft can fly higher than the weather, has de-icing abilities, and more advanced navigation systems allowing for flying in poor conditions. 

“The AW609 answers the need for an aircraft with the speed, range, and altitude of a fixed-wing turboprop airplane and the vertical take-off and landing versatility of a helicopter,” reads the company’s website. “This revolutionary combination, along with the comfort of a pressurized cabin in which you can fly above bad weather, makes the AW609 an unrivaled asset.”