Switchblade flying car developer SamsonSky revealed what it is calling a “Dynamic Dash” yesterday at EAA AirVenture and said the vehicle’s first flight could come within the next few weeks. The Dynamic Dash is a digital dashboard that changes from flight gauges to driving gauges depending on the mode of the flying car and provides for user customization. It incorporates vehicle malfunction warnings and automatically displays the appropriate checklist to handle each specific emergency.
“You no longer have to search for an emergency handling card, as the checklist automatically appears on the eyes-forward display in front of pilot and copilot,” said Samson CEO Sam Bousfield. “This should mean faster response to an emergency and, hopefully, a more successful outcome for the pilot and passenger, and we believe this is a first for small aircraft. In many emergency situations, fast action can reduce or prevent serious damage to engine or equipment. Not having to search for a checklist should allow the pilot to more easily do their main job, which is to fly the airplane.”
One portion of the digital screen switches from lesser important data, such as Hobbs time, to give warnings for critical items such as low fuel or low oil pressure. Additionally, a second section of the screen shows the first two or three lines of the appropriate emergency handling checklist from the pilot operating handbook. By touching the screen anywhere, the checklist scrolls down to reveal the next lines of the checklist.
Bousfield also announced that Samson recently received a U.S. patent for the Switchblade’s folding wing spar, which allows the wing to fold inside the vehicle during driving mode. Samson has also designed and constructed the vehicle’s transmission, propeller disconnect, installed the turbo engine, conducted static wing, and boom testing to Part 23 FAA standards and tested the fly-by-wire rudder system. Further testing of that system to check fault modes is scheduled and first flight could occur within a few weeks, Bousfield told AIN. He added that additional electrical work needs to be completed for flight testing and that the starter motor needs to be replaced. Once that happens there will be several days worth of harmonic testing of the engine and transmission, followed by taxi and high-speed ground testing.
Bousfield said Samson is working with Motus Motorcycle Engines to purchase the assets of his company's preferred engine manufacturer. Motus, of Birmingham, Alabama, makes a turbocharged, liquid-cooled 190-hp V4 “baby block” engine popular with motorcycle enthusiasts that will power the vehicle to speeds up to 125 mph on the ground and 190 mph in the air. The engine burns 91 octane auto fuel. Bousfield called the engine “bulletproof” and said that acquiring Motus would help keep the cost of Switchblade engines under $10,000. “Buying the engine company will help us keep our costs in line,” he said.
Samson also recently released more performance targets for the Switchblade. They include a range of 450 miles, a maximum useful load of 544 pounds, a fuel capacity of 30 gallons, a fuel burn of 40 mpg (highway) and nine gph in the air, a stall speed (dirty) of 67 mph, a takeoff distance of 1,100 feet, and landing distance of 1,000 feet. The two-seat, three-wheeled Switchblade will initially be offered as a $140,000 kitplane with a factory builder assistance program. The company plans to begin taking formal deposits after the vehicle’s first flight. It currently holds “reservations” for 982 copies of the Switchblade.