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First manned-flight of a multicopter - the toy that grew up

posted 9 Nov 2011, 13:13 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 9 Nov 2011, 13:15 ]

The developers of a new kind of helicopter with 16 propellers are celebrating its first ever manned flight. Multicopters began life as toys but could become an economical and safe way of flying in the future. Stuart McDill has more.

REUTERS / AVDATA FILMPRODUKTION KARLSRUHE - The inaugural flight of a brand new kind of manned-aircraft.


This is the first piloted flight of a multicopter - the child's toy that has well and truly grown up.

Brainchild of e-volo in southern Germany, one of its designers, Stephan Wolf, says its much easier to operate than a conventional helicopter.


MULTICOPTER DEVELOPER, STEPHAN WOLF, SAYING:

"A helicopter has adjustable blades, here we have fixed pitch blades, so there is nothing mechanical, it's very simple, so that's the main difference to a helicopter."

With 16 rotors, driven by electric motors and steered by a standard remote controller, the machine offers more layers of safety than a normal aircraft.


MULTICOPTER DEVELOPER, STEPHAN WOLF, SAYING:

"What is special about this is that we have used more propellers than usually, because when some propellers fail or motors fail, you can still land safely. Same with the control devices here. They are redundant and if one fails, you can still safely land."

With their maiden manned-flight safely behind them, the developers are now working on a commercial version - aimed at the urban transport market.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MULTICOPTER DEVELOPER, STEPHAN WOLF, SAYING:

"I can imagine that it can be used as an air taxi in urban space for example. Maybe you have heart that in Sao Paulo in Brazil, they have many helicopters flying there. Only people who can afford it, can use it. So it would be affordable for anyone."

Safe, cheap, aerial transport - child's play.

Stuart McDill, Reuters

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