This looks cool, but I wouldn’t get into a twist over it just yet. Remember the Sonic Cruiser? That was an actual development program (which eventually morphed into the decidedly less-sexy 787) whereas this is still just R&D. Not to say it won’t go anywhere, but don’t look for any Mach-busters in spiffy airline paint anytime soon.
A little closer to home, there are still ways to squeeze serious knots out of a piston single, and most of them are downright gorgeous. Though if you’re not into racing, there’s always this little beauty:
The limiting factor in terms of my own future enjoyment? Regulations, which equals money. Lots of it. The process for certifying a new aircraft design is so cumbersome that it easily doubles – maybe even triples – the price of a finished product and takes it well beyond the reach of normal people. Even a mundane little Cessna 172 costs well north of a quarter million dollars new. That’s like buying a Lamborghini. Does anyone really believe a design that’s more than half a century old is worth three hundred large?
< crickets chirping…>
Granted, production airplanes should be expected to cost more because they need to be a great deal more reliable than cars. But when the regulatory hoops push even a simple light-sport design into six-figure price tags, something is seriously out of whack.
This is why there’s been such a boom in homebuilt aircraft kits over the last 20-odd years: no doubt many builders wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’m certain a sizeable fraction are in it to get a hot plane for less money. At least the ones I know are, even though we’re still talking a fair amount of dough for a project that can easily take 5+ years. That’s a commitment I have a hard time getting my head around, and this is coming from a guy who writes novels. At least my finished products don’t have the potential to kill me if I screw them up.
Hopefully relief will be coming in the next couple of years. As one who’d dearly love to someday fly something like this, I can only hope.