Published: 00:01, 03 October 2014
Futuristic four-winged aeroplanes could be flying out of Lydd Airport in as little as three years, thanks to an Ashford designer.
The VV-Plane, a cargo aircraft, takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter so does not need a runway and is easier to manoeuvre.
It’s a substitute for ships for land-locked countries and replaces lorries and trains in areas of poor or non-existent roads and rail.
A model prototype was flown for the first time at the airport before a delegation of business people on Friday evening.
Thorsten Reinhardt, the man behind the project, said: “We would like to be in operation in three years and we would then like to produce at least 30 of these aircraft a month.”
The plane can fly cargo containers of more than 30 tonnes around the world. It has the unique design feature of a hollow bottom to fit over a steel crate, incorporating it into the fuselage.
This would be 18 by 18 metres and a smaller version would handle cargo of more than 10 tonnes.
Mr Reinhardt’s company, 4X4 Aviation is also developing a VV remote-control model plane and a two-passenger microlight craft.
The project had first been revealed last January, but the present prototype is a redesign to make it more aerodynamic and increase its power-to-weight ratio.
Business sponsorship of £3.5 million is needed to develop the prototype over the next three years and full manufacture of the aircraft would take place shortly after this.
Mr Reinhardt, a German national who is resident in Godinton Park, Ashford, explained: “The problem of a conventional aircraft is that it needs infrastructure (for take-off and landing), which requires a lot of money.
“I believe we need true innovation. For me, it means making a significant difference for the majority of people.
“Local and national economies, as well as developing countries, are today struggling to meet the ever-increasing demands for transport infrastructure. A viable solution will generate huge economic and social benefits for these countries.”
The company believes it could particularly serve countries like Ghana, which now spends about 1.2 billion US dollars a year on infrastructure, equivalent to about 7.5% of GDP (gross domestic product).
4X4 Aviation recently visited Bolivia, which is land-locked and has vast remote areas. Transportation problems make the cost of the most basic goods one and a half times that of those sold in European shops.
The Bolivian government has to pay to help deliver these products.
4X4 Aviation is now seeking business funding for the project. Potential sponsors should contact Mr Reinhardt at email@example.com or call 01797 322400.
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