It Flies Like an X-Hawk

Jan. 31 issue – Ever wish you could fly over city traffic? So have more than a few soldiers and ambulance drivers bogged down in the urban jungle, and now there’s a craft designed for such desperate situations.

The X-Hawk is the first helicopter built to maneuver in tight spaces. Developed by Israeli helicopter company Urban Aeronautics, the X-Hawk is a “rotorless” aircraft.

Whereas top-mounted rotors make it hard for conventional choppers to avoid buildings and power lines, the X-Hawk’s rotors are encased inside ducts and mounted on the tail. Small vanes in the front and back of the ducts allow the helicopter to move forward and backward, or right and left, without rolling. Though the first X-Hawk is not expected to be available until 2010, a prototype passed 10 hover tests with flying colors in December.

Urban Aeronautics says two nations have expressed interest in the X-Hawk’s military potential. The next step is certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Israel’s Herzliya Medical Center has already placed the first order for the $2.2 million craft.
Urban Aeronautics founder Rafi Yoeli predicts the X-Hawk will have as big an impact on aviation as the original helicopter, and inspire “a real big change in the way rescue operations are done.” By air, anywhere.

– Kathryn Williams