The BlackFly Is a Flying Car That Doesn’t Require a Pilot’s License
We at ExtremeTech are as disappointed as anyone that the flying cars we were implicitly promised over the years have not yet arrived. A Canadian firm called Opener wants to finally make flying cars a reality with the newly announced BlackFly. Unlike past attempts, Opener isn’t trying to match the capabilities of a car. The Black Fly doesn’t go very far or very fast, but it’s all electric, amphibious (just in case), and you allegedly don’t need a pilot’s license to fly it.
The single-seat BlackFly is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft, which is a prerequisite for it to be useful as a personal vehicle. After all, most of us don’t have a runway for a driveway. There’s a fixed wing at the front and rear of the vehicle, each with a bank of four propellers to provide both lift and thrust.
While the BlackFly is supposedly more efficient with power usage than an electric ground-based vehicle, it can’t go far. The maximum range is 25 miles (40 kilometers) at a top speed of 62 miles per hour (100 kph). However, it has an efficiency of 245 Wh/mi, whereas a Tesla Model S is around 320Wh/mi. The new, more efficient Model 3 is a bit better at roughly 250Wh/mi in real-world use. The difference in range is because the BlackFly has to fly, and that means it needs to use a smaller battery to reduce weight. It’s just 8-12 kWh compared with 60-70 kWh in the Model S.
Opener says the BlackFly has an intuitive control system that anyone can learn to use. There’s even an autopilot system that can land the vehicle in an emergency or transport you home. The design is modular with three backup control systems. Opener says BlackFly has performed perfectly across 40,000 propulsion system, tests and 12,000 miles flown.
Interestingly, Opener is leading with the assertion that you don’t need to be a pilot to fly the BlackFly. You will allegedly be able to fly the BlackFly in the US without a license because it’s small and light enough to be considered an ultralight vehicle by the FAA. I suspect the FAA might have something to say about this specific vehicle in the event it actually ships to customers. The BlackFly seems much more capable than your average ultralight aircraft. In Canada, the BlackFly requires an ultralight pilot certification.
Opener will show off its vehicle at the EAA AirVenture Convention later this month in Wisconsin, but you won’t be allowed to fly it. The company hasn’t offered details on what it would cost to get your own BlackFly or when it’ll take orders.
17 Jul 2018