Kalispell, MT, May 24, 2012: Synergy, the efficient new aircraft design we profiled recently, may get off the ground due to advanced aerodynamics, but sexy looks and stable handling certainly don't hurt the pitch: fuel-sipping performance and a comfy passenger experience.
Part of the latter is peace of mind. More ‘fighter jet’ than family sedan, the boldly different ‘double box tail’ aircraft certainly looks like it could deliver on its performance and efficiency premise, but not everything about the unusually roomy design is as it seems at first glance. Synergy designer John McGinnis says that after launching their recent crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.com, many who are seeing the pressurized turbodiesel airplane for the first time are confused about its size, its seating, and whether the pilot arrangement makes sense in the event of an emergency.
“The first thing that really throws people off is that it has these two, large, fighter-style canopies, so the brain just naturally assumes it’s looking at a small two-place, tandem-seat aircraft,” McGinnis said, “but Synergy is actually a rather imposing five seat airplane, with room for six or more.”
Since the main pilot seat is right up front, that leaves four people in back, and McGinnis says he’s received lots of inquiries from people questioning the wisdom of that arrangement. Yet Synergy, he says, is all about safety.
“There are actually three pilot seats in the aircraft, and you can fly it from the side-by side seats behind the front seat any time there is more than one person in the aircraft,” McGinnis said, adding, “the person up front in the VIP chair doesn’t even have to be a pilot.”
That might be fine when there are several pilots aboard, such as an instructor with two students. But for some who’d rather hunker down in the relatively cocooned passenger space in back, all that matters is that there’s always at least one person who can fly and land the plane.
In Synergy, McGinnis says, that can be anyone: the plane is designed around the very latest in high tech avionics, including a push-button system from Vertical Power that will not only identify every airport in gliding range of the aircraft, but select the very best one to land at based on wind conditions and size of runway, displaying the best course on screen “like gates on a super-easy video game,” McGinnis said.
What’s more, Synergy partner John Paul Noyes said that on Synergy, the system includes the ability to “push one button and have the autopilot fly you right onto the runway1,” even through the clouds and around terrain or obstacles. But what if even that doesn’t work, perhaps due to damage?
“There’s a bright red handle you can pull that fires a rocket-launched parachute” that brings the whole airframe down in one piece, Noyes said. “Should you ever need to do that, you’ll be in good company, as this kind of system has already saved hundreds of lives” in aviation, Noyes said.
Popular CrowdFunding Effort sees Early Success:
In less than a week, the Synergy Kickstarter project raised half their minimum goal of $65,000, calling that latter figure “just life support for the engine and landing gear installation phase.” With a continued strong outpouring of enthusiasm from backers, McGinnis says the team can accelerate toward the flight test phase, where they will learn whether other built-in safety features of the design will make it from this concept prototype into actual production. As Noyes said, “Right now, the opportunity is clear, and we’re looking for the right connections to bring this to reality.”
This Synergy Kickstarter project's initial goal of $65,000 is just ‘life support’ for the engine and landing gear installation phase of a much larger completion effort.
Americans will travel more this summer than at any time since the busy summer of 2000 -- before a recession and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with hijacked aircraft sent the U.S. travel...
BusinessElite is the airline's international version of First Class.
Johnny Mazza was a happy pilot, making one of those good-deal flights that sometime come the way of aviators.