X-Hawk flying car by 2010Enlarge Photo
There’s serious interest in the project from the business sector, including Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopters who has teamed with Yoeli’s privately held Urban Aeronautics to explore X-Hawk’s potential. The advantage of the X-Hawk over conventional helicopters is the unexposed rotors, which make the vehicle safer for urban areas. “The reality is that we have not been designing helicopters to operate in urban environments,” said M.E. Rhett Flater, executive director of the American Helicopter Society, a professional group. “What Rafi is doing is addressing that need to design some kind of vehicle that can operate in an urban environment that can get close to buildings and skyscrapers, and provide some type of relief for people stranded in buildings.”
The X-Hawk, still an unmanned prototype, features a streamlined body with 2 fans rising from the rear and a cockpit-style driver’s seat. The completed version is expected to be able to take off vertically, fly up to 155 miles an hour and as high as 12,000 feet and remain aloft about two hours, says its designers. The company projects a manned X-Hawk will first hover in 2009 and hit the market within eight years with an estimated $1.5 million price tag.