Q: So a flying motorcycle, what happened to the flying car?
A: The flying car is too heavy. A motorcycle performs well on the road and is light and good looking.
Q: Why haven’t we seen these before, what is new about this technology?
A: The technology is not new; we’re using standard fixed-wing flight surfaces, engine, and propulsion. What is new is the way the pilot controls the craft; we’ve replaced the rudder pedals by adding an additional axis to the controls. This allows us to efficiently incorporate a consumer retail motorcycle, which drastically saves on the production expenses.
Q: What kind of motorcycle? Can I use the one I currently own?
A: We’ve chosen a specific model that is a balance of lightweight, economic value, and performance. At this time this is the only model that can be used on the craft because it needs to interact with the dimensions of the flight module.
Q: Do I need a license?
A: Yes, two actually. You will need, at minimum, a Sport Pilot’s license from the FAA to operate the Light Sport craft in flight and a motorcycle license from the DMV to operate a motorcycle on the road. A Private pilot certificate will be required for the General Aviation version.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: We are working with manufacturers to develop pricing that should not exceed the price of a mid-luxury automobile.
Q: Do I have to build it myself? Will I be able to do that?
A: Aircraft regulations make it more economical to produce kit aircraft. This is known as the 51% kit rule and it limits the liability of the manufacturer. We are discussing the options and challenges with producing kits or obtaining the Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) certification which will allow us to deliver completed aircraft to the consumer. We may offer the craft as a kit until such time that we have gathered statistical experience that we can use to certify the craft for factory-built delivery. If we do, the kit will be simple enough for the home-builder using standard tools and a several weekends to devote.
Q: How many people does it carry?
A: The design allows for one pilot and one passenger.
Q: Is it safe? How do I find my way when I am in the sky? Where do I land? Where do I park it? Where can I use it? What about the weather?
A: There are many issues that flight training will answer, navigation, weather, and safety, as this craft will be similar to a standard aircraft in many ways. Just like an aircraft, a hanger or tie-down will be required if you don’t cart the flight module home with you. The craft has been designed to exceed operating parameters. In addition, a ballistic parachute is available to be used in the event of catastrophic emergencies.
Q: How high does it go?
A: The craft is not equipped with a cockpit or oxygen so you will get colder as you go higher. It is designed to comply with the Light Sport aircraft regulations so that you can operate the craft with a Sport Pilot certification. This SP license limits the pilot to operations below 10,000 feet sea level.
Q: Will I fall off?
A: No, a restraint belt system is integrated into the flight module.
Q: Is there a mailing list for me to receive updated information when it becomes available?
A: Yes, follow the links page to the Yahoo newsgroup.
Q: Why two engines on the General Aviation model?
A: To allow for the weight and balance to have the craft use the rear wheel of the motorcycle for take-off. This design permits the take-off rotation to pivot at the rear wheel.
Q: What did you do to bypass the weight problems of a normal motorcycle?
A: In today's terms a "normal" motorcycle is at least 900cc and weighs 900 lbs. If you look at bikes from the 50's to 70's, before automobiles were so cheap, people actually used motorcycles for transportation. Many bikes were 300cc to 500cc and were more than adequately powered. Using today's technology we get even more power from a small motor and save weight using better materials. But still most of today's "normal" bikes are huge, because that is what people want. The bikes that are going to be used for the Light Sport aircraft will be an "enduro," dual-sport, type. Several of these bikes are useable on the road and only weigh between 260 lbs. and 300 lbs. While this would exceed part-103 ultra-light requirements, this weight can be carried by a Light-Sport aircraft.
Q: What is the team you are working with?
A: We are currently in negotiations with a developer and in talks with a handful of investors. The developer is confident that he can have a prototype within the year. This developer has designed and is currently marketing S-LSA aircraft. My brother-in-law has also joined my marketing team as have several of my friends who have helped with legal, design, and with strategic council. In addition, it is really amazing the great advice I've received from some very experienced and qualified industry people just for asking. They have been generous with their time and knowledge.
Q: Why are trying to be approved as an S-LSA, what about a kit?
A: My original thought was to have a kit. In discussions with the developer it was strongly suggested that we instead go directly for an S-LSA, completed aircraft. This allows us to reduce our customer service demand and deliver a better product. It may also reduce our liability rather than increasing it as I had previously thought.
Q: What steps are you taking to work with the FAA? What S-LSA challenges must be overcome so you do not have phase-one limitations placed upon your craft each time you assemble the wings onto the bike?
A: The developer has already gone through the S-LSA process with his current line of aircrafts and I am confident that his experience and FAA contacts will help this process along. I've also contacted the FAA directly to get additional advice and guidance. Phase-one limitations have not yet been discussed with the FAA. We will seek their guidance to help us create a design where the removal and reconnection of the motorcycle would not be regarded as an airworthiness "change."
Other FAA issues include:
1. How is the motorcycle’s engine counted regarding the LSA’s single engine limitation? Do flying-boats with marine engines have relevance?
2. How can due-diligence be performed to insure that the motorcycle is manufactured according to approved (LSA certified) quality-assurance standards?
3. How do the maintenance requirements of the aircraft relate to the maintenance of the motorcycle?
Q: How can I trust you, what about the Jim Bede saga and his infamous BD-5 or the cornucopia of similar debacles and similar "take the money, then go out of business" occurrences that have burned us all in the past? How can you try and raise capital before you can demonstrate the ability to put your vision into a nuts and bolts aircraft?
A: Several years ago my father had put a deposit on a never-delivered BD-5. Sadly, he still has a BD-5 poster in his home office. Regardless of the cash taken by others in the past, in order to make this happen, I need to validate the market to creditors and investors and the only way is to gather customer deposits.
The escrow deposit insulates the consumer from company risk and foul play.
Investors who buy-in at a pre-prototype stage understand their risk and therefore the high reward that they have the opportunity to enjoy. Investors may still be sought post-prototype but because of the milestones achieved, they will not be granted a level of financial return comparable to those who had invested early on.
Q: What are the parameters that you want to achieve; re: weight/climb/cruise/stall/range/payload?
A: It would be desirable to have a model in the Light Sport category for the new people attracted to aviation and to be able to deliver a factory-built, rather than kit, aircraft, without going through a general aviation multi-million dollar certification process. Light Sport defines much of the limiting parameters for that model.
Q: What is your target market? Would they expect comfort and finish in a "cross country" aircraft, a decent cruise, endurance of at least 3+ hours at normal cruise, an enclosed cabin, seating for two, a heater, and space for baggage?
A: Exactly, except for the enclosed cabin, and you forgot about price. Most importantly, this design is for the person who can afford a small (LSA) aircraft and a taxi, but not a limousine.
Drag could be reduced by a set of off-the-shelf motorcycle fairings and the frontal area of the motorcycle is less than that of the cockpit of other LSA aircraft. I expect to achieve cruise speeds with the LSA craft approaching, maybe not exceeding, 100 mph.
Heating, if needed, for motorcycle (snowmobile) cruisers is available using retail electrified gloves, jackets, and pants. Tandem seating for two, not controls, is available. Radios / GPS can be mounted on the frame and other instruments can be mounted in a panel from the wings, above and to the sides of the operator, or in a front panel as depicted the general aviation mock-up.
Q: Does the open-motorcycle design negate some of the features many would look for in a cross-country aircraft?
A: Some motorcycle riders do spend hours traveling in the open.
Q: Could I just rather fly a cross-country in a more traditional enclosed cabin aircraft - then call a cab or rent a car at the destination?
A: Yes but with your own transportation you retain the freedom and spontaneous attributes of travel that us car-loving (a.k.a. not rely on others) people enjoy.
Q: Hey what about a motorcycle-based, two-person pod-type vehicle?
A: I too, have envisioned as the ultimate version. These motorcycle pods (see: BMW C1) are well covered by existing patents and would need to be developed by a third-party. Until widely available, I can’t cost-effectively incorporate them into current designs. My understanding of what people want is a road craft that will not be distinguished from other current road vehicles and that can manage an interstate highway.
Q: What about a single seat LSA where the entire motorcycle has nothing to do with the aircraft, and is simply "baggage?"
A: One of the design goals is to keep the cost of the craft low. In our design the motorcycle provides the seating, controls, and two of the four ground wheels including the steering. If you retain the standard comforts (aka cabin and controls) and then include a bike carrier, it would affect the price.
If the motorcycle would be carried aft of the cabin the cockpit would need to be placed far forward. This would make minor variations in cabin load-weight (at distance to center-of-gravity) drastically affect your flight characteristics. Also the motorcycle would need to be placed quite high up to allow for take-off roll clearance. It would then not be able to be easily accessed / loaded when on the ground.
If instead the motorcycle would be carried to the side of the cabin, it would add to the frontal area which would effect drag / cruise rate. A sleek compartment may be drag-reducing but would affect your price.
And yes, simply “baggage” removes the other design goal (LSA issue) for motorcycle-engine ground-traction assisted take-off.
Q: If the m/c engine on when taking off or landing? If so, would it then be a 2 engine airplane and not qualify for Light Sport?
A: Possibly, while the second engine is not for airborne propulsion, you may be right in defining the craft as 2-engine. The LS regulations were designed with the intent of simplifying piloting and the coordinated control of the motorcycle engine on take-off does add a level of complexity.
Q: Will you have to modify the bike to handle the load of the wing, fuselage, tail, and engine?
A: No, the current design incorporates outrigger wheels. These wheels would carry that additional portion of the craft load.
Q: For LSA, you will need to withstand the drop test. Would your design withstand the loads dropping From 3-5 feet?
A: The current LS design is using a dual-sport type motorcycle, well able to withstand rough handing.