A Moller M200G on a test flight. The craft is supported by the downdraft of eight rotary engines and controlled with a joystick. Maximum altitude: 10 feet, to stay under the limit that would require a pilot's license.
Credit: Moller International, USA
Right now, only $90,000 stands between you and ownership of your own flying saucer. Except it won't take you to Venus—it looks like flying saucer but it's really a car-sized hovercraft intended to fly no higher than 10 feet.
Called the M200G from Moller International of Davis, CA, the craft is supported by the downdraft of eight small but powerful rotary engines.
Moller spokesman Bruce Calkins explained that the craft can carry a payload of 250 pounds and is stabilized by a computer system. The driver uses a joystick for steering and sets the desired altitude (detected with proximity radar) with a lever.
The 10-foot maximum altitude is constrained by the system's computer—it could fly much higher but doing so would require a pilot's license, Calkins explained.
"I don't know exactly who will adopt it first, but the likeliest users are those who are unable to go out and use the land they may already own, because it's a rocky seashore, a swamp, or a bog, with obstructions that would prevent a hovercraft from working," Calkins said.
A standard hovercraft has a skirt around the bottom, which can lose its air pocket when crossing uneven surfaces.
Besides gasoline, the craft’s rotary engines can burn a combination of ethanol and water, giving it very low emissions. What it cannot boast of is fuel economy: With a top speed of about 50 mph it can travel for about an hour, but will consume about 40 gallons of fuel during that trip, Calkins said.
The craft also emits an earsplitting 85 decibels. With mufflers, Moller eventually hopes to reduce the noise level to a more moderate 65 decibels, he said.
Price and availability
The firm plans to build six demo models during the next 12 months, and then probably about 40 during the following 12 months, and then gear up to a production of 200 to 250 per year thereafter. If the demand exceeds 250 per year they'll subcontract the work to bigger factories, Calkins indicated.
The $90,000 price does not include any options, Calkins cautioned, such as airbags or a radio.
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