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The Air Scooter® is a type of ultralight helicopter produced by a private company for consumer sale. The Air Scooter® is one of a number of ultralight vehicles that have been being prepared for the market in recent years, and is arguably the most well-known and popular. Although ultralights have been around for some years, and have even existed as kits, the production of high-end consumer ultralights is a relatively new market.
Ultralights sprang up during the 1970s and 1980s, when a growing movement of recreational flyers developed. These people had a desire to fly without investing the fairly hefty amounts of money in even the cheapest of full aircraft. As a result, various aviation authorities throughout the world intervened and developed minimal regulations to assist these people in being able to fly affordably, while still keeping some level of safety checks in place. Mostly the regulations around ultralights concern both weight and speed, and these numbers differ from country to country.
For example, in the United States an ultralight craft is considerably lighter than in any other country, with the classification known as light-sport aircraft more closely adhering to other nations’ ultralight definitions. In the United States an ultralight craft must be less than 254 pounds (115kg) when unfueled, and can only hold up to five gallons (19L) of fuel. Additionally, it must not be able to go faster than 64 mph (102 kmh). Ultralights require no certification, and no training, but they may only be flown during the day and in unpopulated areas.
The Air Scooter II®, the main craft from Air Scooter®, was designed by Elwood “Woody” Norris, an inventor who made his money with hip replacement alarms and stereo speakers. The Air Scooter II® weighs almost exactly 254 pounds (115kg) unfueled, and can carry up to 350 pounds (159kg) of cargo and passengers. The vehicle is meant to be flown at around 50 feet (15m), although it has an altitude ceiling of around 10,000 feet (3000m). The Air Scooter II® has been in delayed development for years now, and currently there is no announced production date.
The delay in production has been noted as being the result of the production of an alternative product, the AeroTwin Engine™. The engine is the same engine used in the Air Scooter II® prototypes, but is packaged on its own, rather than as part of a complete package. When the Air Scooter II® does become available for retail purchase, the estimated price is around $50,000 US Dollars (USD), making it significantly more expensive than a self-built ultralight.
There is little competition in the world of pre-assembled, high-end ultralight vehicles, with only one company in the world really producing a similar product. This company, Gene Corporation, from Japan, sells the GEN H-4, a similar personal helicopter. The GEN-H4 sells in the United States through AceCraft USA, and retails as a kit for around $30,000 USD. In the rest of the world, ultralight craft may be quite a bit heavier than in the United States, and there are other models available for sale that in the United States would sell as light-sport aircraft, including the Vampire MK1, the Ikarus C42, and the Quicksilver MXII.