The future of air transportation?
There is always a tonne of ambitious, innovative products around the bazaars at the Paris Air Show. This year we’ve discovered a ‘revolutionary’ personal jetpack, a crash-proof drone, and a new use for an unmanned ground vehicle.
Eyebrows were also raised by the appearance of a model of the ‘Mini-Bee’ individual air vehicle. The collaborative R&D project involves around two dozen European universities and companies, and builds on work done on the Bee-Plane project.
A spokesman told me that the tiltrotor/quadrotor would have room for 2-4 seats, would be a fuel/electric hybrid and could enter production in the next five years – if a major industrial partner could be found to help take the project forward.
Given the difficulty AgustaWestland has had bringing the much more mature AW609 to market, this seems like a pretty big ‘if’, however.
Nevertheless, the spokesman argued that the Mini-Bee’s design provided more stability than the current generation tiltrotors.
So what do we think – the future of air transportation or an overly ambitious design that will be consigned to history?