D.his twelve-cylinder comes from the center of Germany. But not from BMW or Mercedes, but from a much smaller company. It is located near the Nürburgring in Adenau in Rhineland-Palatinate. The V12 with 500 hp powers a new and futuristic aircraft, the Celera 500 L from California. It catches the eye with its unusual proportions, which show pure high-tech. Its design aims to be as efficient as possible.
That is why the American manufacturer Otto Aviation breaks with almost all conventions in the construction of business jets for six passengers. So no flat fuselage, no two engines, no retractable landing gear in the wing, no turbines. Instead, a piston engine behind the passenger cabin, a pusher propeller, the retractable landing gear is in the fuselage, and the shape is reminiscent of an egg. There are good reasons for the exotic appearance. Aerodynamics and propulsion technology should be so efficient that up to 80 percent fuel can be saved compared to previous business jets of similar dimensions. Megalomaniac fiction from one of the countless aviation start-ups to raise money from risky investors? Not at all, the test vehicle was already in the air for 51 flight hours.
The aerodynamics are exhausted
The body of the Celera 500 L offers advantages. It guarantees headroom for six passengers, plenty of space and, at the same time, extreme wind slippage. Only this exhausted aerodynamics together with the economical propeller drive can actually combine the incompatible, namely low operating costs and at the same time a jet-like speed at high altitudes. Laminar flow is the magic formula here. The fuselage, wings and tail unit are optimized in such a way that the air flows unhindered and without disturbing eddies around the entire aircraft. Therefore, a less powerful motor can be used, which still allows high speed. This also requires perfect surface quality. Even contamination such as insects adhering to the wing can bring the laminar flow to a standstill.
Company founder William Otto is considered a brilliant designer and has worked in the American aviation industry for decades. He founded his first development company in the 1970s and is a trained physicist, mathematician and engineer. In 2008 he started another company with Otto Aviation. The aim is to build a business jet in which passengers can be brought more comfortably to their individually chosen destination at the cost of a scheduled flight. Son William Otto junior has meanwhile taken over the management of the company. In contrast to some hip start-ups, Otto Aviation did not raise a lot of money with big promises amid PR roar. Instead, a prototype was built quietly, secretly made ready for flight and only informed after the first photos appeared.
The projected flight performances are ambitious. The series version is expected to reach more than 8,000 kilometers and thus a transcontinental range, an altitude of 15,200 meters, i.e. above Boeing, Airbus and Co, and a cruising speed of up to 740 km / h. The whole thing at operating costs, which should amount to around 15 percent of a comparable twin-engine business jet in the light to medium category.
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