Scaled Composites recently took the wraps off its Model 367 BiPod, a hybrid gasoline-electric roadable aircraft designed by the company’s legendary founder Burt Rutan before he retired in April.
The BiPod contains twin fuselages and dual single-seat cockpits, and is designed to be flown as an aircraft from the right seat and driven as a car from the left. The aircraft comes equipped with removable wings, which give the BiPod a span of almost 32 feet when attached, a length that lessens to just under 8 feet when removed and allows for single-car garage parking.
Under its complete design, the BiPod would rely on two internal combustion engines, one in each fuselage, to supply the aircraft’s electrical power system. That system will power the vehicle’s rear wheels while on the road, as well as the aircraft’s electrically driven propellers while in the air. Although they have not yet been installed, the aircraft’s design ultimately calls for four propellers, two on the horizontal stabilizer and one on each wing.
According to Scaled Composites, “the use of electric power transmission decouples engine location from propeller location without the need for mechanical shafts and gearboxes, enabling BiPod’s unique geometry.”
In addition to the BiPod’s combustion engines, the aircraft will contain rechargeable lithium batteries for additional power during takeoff and emergency situations.
Scaled Composites claims the BiPod will have a maximum speed of 200 mph and a range of 700 miles. The company says the roadable aircraft will have STOL cabilities, as well as the ability to operate at freeway speeds.
The BiPod made its first flight at the end of March, accumulating enough speed from its battery-powered wheels to make it briefly into the air. The BiPod program was accelerated due to Rutan’s impending retirement, and made it from the preliminary design stage to the air in just four months.
The BiPod is just one “roadable aircraft” currently making headlines. Just a few weeks ago, Terrafugia, the company behind the flying car known as the Transition, announced that the vehicle had been approved for road use in the United States.