Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Business of Innovation

The senior editor of General Aviation News, Thomas Norton, has a column in the February 6th, 2009 edition of that magazine called "What Business Are You In?". He makes these points:
What should we do when our comfortable niche either vanishes or becomes so small that it no longer supports our business? That's exactly what is happening at many companies, not all of them small, in the aviation community.
If we are to adapt to our circumstances, we need to be thinking more like the Wright brothers, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell and and number of genuine innovators.
I could not agree more with Mr. Norton. I have felt for some time that general aviation, depending as it does on long take off and landing (LTOL) aircraft, is not offering product with maximum appeal. So long as airports are needed for both ends of a flight, takeoff points and destinations are limited. It's true that many GA pilots in the past and present fly for recreational reasons; but the cost of part time use of airplanes is high, and with there being increased concern about environmental impacts of carbon based fuels, it is not likely that recreational flying will provide a larger and larger market in the future. Airplane manufacturers could have products with increasing appeal if those airplanes were not dependent on airports, and thereby could provide much more convenient air transportation.

Those who have read my blog before know that I am a big fan of vertical take off and landing aircraft (VTOL). Although helicopters are VTOL, they are not ideal from my perspective. They have limited horizontal speed and require frequent maintenance. My company, Aeromobile Inc., has spent a number of years in developing a fixed wing airplane that takes off and lands vertically. We call it the Arc Wing VTOL Airplane. A sketch of it is below:

To me, innovation for general aviation means developing airplanes that fly as fast as the ones we have now, are as well made and safe as the ones we have know, are as pilotable as the ones we have now, but have VTOL capability. Such airplanes could offer true point to point transportation, and air taxi type services would blossom as the beginning and the end points of a flight were almost unlimited. Many other aviation services currently the venue of rotorcraft, like search and rescue, police patrolling, ship to shore flights, fire fighting can also become the venue of fixed wing aircraft. The GA manufacturers of the past and today have accomplished much in the efficiency, safety and capabilities of fixed wing craft. I think that innovation into taking off and landing vertically is where research is most needed, and where the greatest payoff will be.

I invite all GA aircraft manufacturers to contact Aeromobile Inc. to work with us on our innovative and business expanding technology.

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