Is it a plane? Is it a rotorcraft? No! It’s the CarterCopter. This unique craft is a hybrid between an airplane and a rotorcraft which uses its main upper rotor for take offs, landings, lows speed flying and hovering and its secondary aft rotor for high speed flying. (Pics)
The idea of a chopper-plane hybrid isn’t new. Since the mid of the 20’th century different attempts have been made to combine the advantages of a vertical takeoff and landing craft with that of a fast and agile plane. Only recently, and after more than two decades of controversial development, the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft started to enter service in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Osprey provides several advantages over conventional choppers including long range and high speed (top speed of 316 mph or 509 km/h, much faster than any existing chopper). But its tilt rotor mechanism is complex, expensive and prone to failures.
The CarterCopter uses a different, somewhat simpler, approach to creating a hybrid a rotorcraft-airplane. While take off and lending is done in a similar way to that of a conventional chopper high speed flying is achieved by a combination of the aft pusher propeller and small retractable wings which supplies the lift. In addition the CarterCopter slows down the main rotor so that it will not cause additional drag.
According to Carter Aviation Technologies, the Texas based company developing the CarterCopter the maximum theoretical speed of the craft is an incredible 500 mph (800 km/h), the current prototype reached a much more modest speed of 173 mph (270 km/h). Carter Aviation has no plans to manufacture a commercial version of the craft at this stage and is still working on perfecting the technology and hope to license the technology to experienced aircraft manufacturers in the future.