Buying and Running One
Buying an Autocopter should be no different to buying an expensive car. Horizon will offer personal finance and a power by the hour maintenance scheme.
For an Air Taxi operator it shouldn’t be all that much different, though there might be a requirement to provide half the purchase price in cash.
The Autocopter will be a highly modular aircraft with things like the engine or batteries being ‘plug in and play’. Horizon will set up a service to support owners when things go wrong, possibly by flying out an engineer to replace a part.
Like all modern systems today, software will be automatically updated so long as the safety-critical parts are not compromised. Upon landing, the collected health data will be downloaded and returned to base for analysis and determination of any required actions.
Much of the aircraft will be run ‘on condition’, i.e. maintenance times controlled by monitored aircraft usage rather than fixed periods.
An issue that’s always bothered Horizon Helicopters is how owners in remote locations fuel their aircraft. Today, for a gas turbine powered machine, the options are (1) have a tanker deliver fuel to the home site, (2) refuel on the way to somewhere or (3) refuel using remote pilotage. For a battery powered aircraft the options are (1) recharge at home overnight, or (2) recharge at some remote site that has a fast recharging facility.
One solution, not yet totally practical, is to have hydrogen as the fuel, (1) created by a electrolyser and fuelling kit at the home site (see the section on Sustainability /Hydrogen Economy) or (2) have hydrogen in liquid form delivered by tanker. Total, the French oil company, currently makes a mobile hydrogen fuelling unit for cars, but today it’s too large for what the Autocopter would require.
Overall, by far the best solution within the next ten years is to specify a gas turbine powered aircraft and fuel it with synthetic kerosene or high-bio-content Sustainable Aircraft Fuel (SAF).
Fuelled for a range of 1,000 miles would keep most owners happy.