Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s a TriFan 600, an intriguing new flying invention that has caught our eye. The TriFan 600 can’t really be described as either a private jet or a helicopter – but it combines the characteristics of both.
The manufacture is a startup called XTI Aircraft Company based in Denver, U.S, who recently launched a crowdfunding operation for the TriFan 600. In a nutshell, the new innovation is a fixed wing aircraft that has vertical take-off capability, using the same landing and takeoff space as a helicopter.
Here’s how it plans to combine the best of both worlds:
The Jet Part
The TriFan 600 has six seats, fixed wings, and is designed to be as fast as other business jets.
In addition to taking off vertically, it can also take off like a conventional jet on both short and long runways. It also promises a smart and spacious cabin, with the flexibility to be used for business aviation flights or as an air ambulance for medical evacuations.
The XTI team certainly have the aviation know-how to help bring this exciting concept to reality. The team includes Charles Johnson (former president of Cessna) and Jeffrey Pino (a previous senior executive of Sikorsky Aircraft and Bell Helicopters).
The TriFan could reach a cruising speed of 340 kts with a range of 1025 nm. In comparison, the CJ2 Citation (6 seats) can fly at 389 kts over 1050 nm.
The Helicopter Part
To take off vertically, the aircraft will use three blowers. Then, two fans (which are placed on the fixed wings) can rotate 90 degrees to propel the jet forward.
A vertical departure is more demanding in terms of fuel, but it will allow the device to utilise heliports without needing a runway, offering a ‘door-to-door’ aircraft experience instead of an airport-to-airport one.
It can fly up to 30,000 feet above sea level. In comparison, the Eurocopter EC155 (6 seats) has a speed record of 255 kts and can cover 423 nm.
However, this isn’t the first company to take inspiration from both jets and rotary design. The AgustaWestland AW609 Tiltrotor is a twin-engine aircraft capable of taking off like a helicopter. The unit has been in testing for some years, and has undertaken many demo flights including the Paris Air Show back in 2007. The 6-9 seater AW609 has a cruising speed limited to 260 kts and it can fly above sea level with a maximum range of 750 nm. The aircraft is now projecting final certification in 2017 (with the FAA confirming it will need to be certified by both helicopter and fixed-wing rules).
The time and complexities of getting the AW609 to market show that this will not be plain-sailing for the TriFan 600. The recent crowdfunding campaign launched by XTI Aircraft aims to collect $50 million, with $7.3 million pledged to date.
Investors are encouraged to take part in this great adventure, which aims to change the future of air travel. We’ll be keeping a close eye on its development, to see if this exciting ‘jeticopter’ concept can become a reality.
While there are no jeticopters available for charter (yet), we can advise you on the best helicopter or jet for your next trip. For more information, contact us or call our 24/7 Flight Team on +44 (0) 1747 642 777