OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — The technological advancements showcased at EAA AirVenture 2022 are out of this world.
When people pass Opener’s tent, they may notice a plane that looks like something straight out of the Jetsons.
It’s called the Opener BlackFly, classified as an all-electric vertical takeoff personal air vehicle.
“One person can get on board and fly. You don’t need a pilot’s license. It’s an ultralight,” said Greg Kerr, director of software engineering at Opener.
The aircraft features a joystick to control altitude and speed, fixed wings and propellers, sensors, three fail-safe flight systems, and redundant engines.
“The system takes care of everything,” Kerr said. “There are eight engines on it, but you don’t have to worry about what those engines do. That’s what the software does.”
Kerr said the BlackFly could be in the air for about 25 minutes. The software will give a warning when the charge is low.
“It’s a really unique flying experience, because when you take off and hover, you’re on your back. And then when you nose down, you lean completely forward. Then you’re sitting upright So that’s something that many planes don’t do,” Kerr said.
Advanced software is the name of the game for Avilution, another company at AirVenture this year.
“We’re building avionics that are more like how your mobile phone works,” said Mark Spencer, Founder of Avilution.
Spencer said the software they create can run on different types of hardware, like an app on a phone. For example, a system called The Unpannel is mounted on a repositionable luminaire. It has a 17-inch screen that shows critical data, a moving map, and obstacle avoidance.
“It’s the same screen you’d find in a Tesla Model S, just with different software here to provide your flight management system, all your engine gauges, your position on a moving map. It’s all really big and specifically targeted,” Spencer said. .
He said Avilution’s avionics can be fitted to any aircraft, including electric aircraft.
“You can do things that apply a lot more to very specific cases of flying instead of just one size fits all,” Spencer said.
Avilution also has contracts with the US Air Force, US Army and NASA.