UK-based company ProAirsport has developed a user-friendly hybrid microlight personal airplane that can also function as a glider. Dubbed “GloW,” the plane features a number of innovations that make it energy-efficient, easy to use, and low-cost. We first covered it in March of this year, and its development has been fascinating.
The GloW airplane features electric motors that power the wheels, allowing it to taxi and accelerate to takeoff speed quickly and efficiently on its own (self-taxi). Once there, the turbine engine can kick in and the plane is free to climb to a desired altitude (self-launch).
From a cruising altitude, the pilot can turn off the jet turbine, an AMT Titan unit capable of 390N of thrust. When this happens, a small scoop feeding air to the engine closes to cut down on drag, allowing the plane to function as a glider. The ability to switch the engine off boosts travel range and fuel economy, and should allow the GloW to stay in the air for over 10 hours.
The democratization of personal flying.
Perhaps the most important feature of the plane is its accessibility by the average person. It’s set to hit the United Kingdom in February 2016, priced a hair under 40,000 GBP ($62k), and eventually make its way to the United States market. Additionally, the whole craft is quite easy to both assemble and store. In order to keep prices low on this technology-packed plane, GloW’s airframe is made from a glass-epoxy composite rather than carbon fiber. Use of the composite has allowed the company to keep weight down without driving cost up. When empty, the hybrid aircraft is shockingly light, at just 180 kg (under 400 lbs.). Maximum takeoff weight is 300 kg, about 660 lbs.
GloW airplane meets U.K. microlight standards.
Thanks to the low takeoff weight and a stall speed under 35 knots, the GloW airplane meets U.K. microlight airplane standards and can benefit from their recent UK Civil Aviation Authority deregulation. Thus, there’s no need for preliminary certification for airworthiness or any mandatory inspections. There’s also no need for any sort of crew or taxi/takeoff assistance. All one would need to take to the skies in this aircraft is pilot certification and a self-launching motor glider flying license.
So, want to get your hands on one of these?
The prototype’s first flight is scheduled for October, and first delivery for February 2016. ProAirsport is currently taking orders with priority pricing here. If and when the GloW airplane arrives stateside, it will feature a design better tailored to U.S. flight regulations and market.