Product Announcement from Black Ice Tools, LLC
"FLYING TRAILER": AirTrailer ® uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) sport autogyro rotor systems that have been in production for decades safely flying single and two person autogyros and integrates proven unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flight control technology to replace the pilot with a black box. The result is a very low cost "Flying" trailer towed by airplanes or helicopters that enables twice the payload of the towing aircraft alone, doubles the range per pound of payload and enables out-sized cargo to be delivered with a near helicopter-like landing to remote areas.
The AirTrailer ® features a small electric driven pre-rotator motor to spin the rotor to about 50% RPM needed for flight, the forward airflow of the towing aircraft does all the rest. Autogyros can not stall! They do not experience Helicopter settling with power, the rotors are unpowered so no need for a tail rotor system. Autogyros flare on landing to a near zero ground roll requiring a landing area about the size of a baseball diamond, 200 ft X 200 ft.
As with conventional fixed wing gliders, the towing aircraft's cruise speed is reduced by the increased drag. However, since the total useful load of the towing aircraft with an AirTrailer ® is about double, a portion can be dedicated to extra fuel to compensate for the slower speed resulting in about twice the cargo delivered per flight. Exact percentages depend on the power margin of the towing aircraft.
RETURN: Ideally, Bush plane operators can use AirTrailer ® to deliver heavier loads and out-sized cargo to remote strips where the AirTrailer ® is released from a low 100 ft +/- altitude and then the towing aircraft lands and flies the AirTrailer back with back-haul cargo. In more remote area delivery scenarios AirTrailers can be equipped with road worthy axles and wheels or even snow skis, enabling them to be ground towed back by an ATV or 4 X 4 trucks to a grass strip and flown back with back-haul cargo. If ground towing back to a strip is impractical, then with proper pilot training, AirTrailers can be snatched back into the air from remote areas via a ground mounted catch hoop and shepherd's hook trailing from the towing aircraft in exactly the same manner as Banners and Flying Billboards are picked up for towing (see youtube banner pilots).
Finally, if the scenario is a very remote area where recovery is unlikely such as in rescue operations or animal relief missions the AirTrailer ® Expendable model is available made of wood & cable and employing a simplified landing system.
PRODUCTS OFFERED: AirTrailer ® is currently undergoing flight tests where following certification the first block of 20 aircraft are scheduled for 1 April 2010 delivery. Customers have the choice of two ½ ton cargo capacity models. The "AirTrailer ½ Ton SD (Standard)" is a high use robust fuselage of steel framing, composite skin and a high tech rotor system equipped with UAS flight control technology. The SD Model has an 8.5 ft X 4.5 ft X 4 ft tall cargo box enabling sheet plywood/drywall, 55 gallon drums on a pallet and other out-sized cargo with a center shelf allowing 12 ft long lumber and PVC pipe to be carried. The SD Model features a folding mast and rotor blade system along with road worthy tires, axles and a removable hitching tongue enabling highway travel. The SD Model has storable side runners to reduce roll over on landing and several optional features such as float pylons for lake operations, GPS auto-finder, automatic weight on wheels center of gravity detector and even an optional full free flight from high altitude release capability.
For military resupply, emergency rescue or animal feed relief missions etc. where recovery is unlikely, the AirTrailer ® ½ Ton XP (Expendable) Model is offered. The XP Model features a low cost wooden fuselage re-enforced with steel cable, low cost one time use rotor & blades with a simplified landing system that results in higher impact speeds on landing then the SD Model. The XP model has a simple skid gear with a quick remove rotor head system if recovery is practicable. Both ½ Ton models require a towing aircraft with about 250-350 hp, an aircraft equipped with a standard glider towing rig and the pilot will require some 2-3 days training to receive a towing endorsement. Both models can be towed by either an airplane or helicopter to about 120 knots. The ½ Ton Standard Model sells for $75,000 USD and the Expendable Model for $20,000 USD. (prices subject to change without notice)