To assess the fundamental efficiency of a vehicle, it makes sense to compare the ‘total energy consumed’ with the momentum obtained (speed times weight). Clear back in 1950, Gabrielli and von Karman published “What Price Speed?”, a sweeping look at this topic for various forms of transportation.
Unfortunately, what it revealed is still true: the economics of flight are only reasonable when we fly big, heavy airplanes very, very fast… or when we fly slowly with lots of wingspan. Airplanes in the middle waste six times as much energy!
To ask why until real answers emerge is to discover one of the largest opportunities in the modern world. Car sized airplanes cannot succeed economically until they use the correct physics for the domain in which inertial effects and viscous effects equally impede flight.
Two reasons especially stand out when considering this domain we did not master. One, airframe drag under power has always been assumed to be essentially the same or higher than the drag when towed or gliding. Two, the equations built on Assumption One embed further assumptions and simplifications that don’t adapt well to the actual physics when that assumption is reexamined.
It’s also clear that the basic architecture of most aircraft flows from the pervasive influence of underlying 2-D mathematical assumptions, rather than from unconstrained, four dimensional physics that was until recently impossible to analyze, let alone master.
Synergy takes a direct path toward fundamental efficiency by putting the priorities of a sailplane in a form that can carry a lot of weight and fly very fast, yet quietly operate from fifty times as many local airfields as the scheduled airlines can reach.
This has never been an easy or obvious thing to achieve, but John McGinnis’ landmark patents opened the door to gaining stability, control, and stall resistance in a span-efficient form that works for high speed flight. That allowed adopting several proven measures against the root cause of the problem: atmospheric viscosity. Synergy gently and respectfully deals with both inertial and viscous effects at every scale, from the Mach farfield to the boundary layer.
Solving this problem means that any little town is a quick drive, by air, from anywhere, and people can get busy making lots of affordable, smart airplanes that won’t demand as much (or anything) from their operators.
On Demand Aviation utterly changes everything: In Synergy, the same hour wasted on your Silicon Valley traffic jam would allow your commute to originate from South Lake Tahoe… or Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Reno, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Carson City…or anywhere in the entire central valley from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Redding. Draw the size of circle you want, around the place you need to be, and it will show you where you could live and how you could travel someday. Its range isn’t an issue.
There is no need to worry about mass adoption issues, ever… the pace of change will be too slow due to the need for enough aircraft and more robust solutions to the obvious lesser challenges. History shows that society can get behind good ideas far more quickly than they arrive. Safe, quiet future aircraft will eventually, slowly soak right into the very fabric of our communities while upgrading and repurposing areas of blight.
Aviators know that traffic jams are a quaint 2-D concept that networked neighborhood smartplanes will never replicate. Remember, the gigantic runways of sprawling commercial airports (and their ATC) are a legacy of packing 747s onto the same ribbon of concrete every few minutes, not a requirement of safe operations for future little airplanes spread over a million times more area. With adoption comes the reality of affordable nextgen personal aviation; a thousand times better idea than Hyperloop.