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The Truck-Helicopter Hybrid Takes Flight


The Black Knight Transformer

Courtesy Advanced Tactics Inc.

The Black Knight Transformer

Ripped straight out of the fantasy world of a seven-year-old, the truck-helicopter is now a reality. The Black Knight Transformer successfully completed its first flight test, and its manufacturer, Advanced Tactics, has released this amazing video as proof.

AT began work on the aircraft in 2010 with funding from Congress. Its large interior volume is similar to the Blackhawk (UTX) helicopter, providing room for carrying cargo or wounded soldiers. It also has automotive suspensions, drive trains, big wheels, and shocks similar to those of an off-road vehicle capable of speeds up to 70 miles per hour. The Black Knight can be flown by a pilot—or not. Its first flight was unmanned.

A big box suspended in the air by prop-rotors, the modular hybrid looks like it’s been jury-rigged from spare parts, and that’s not far from the truth: The propulsion system and airframe are made from low-cost, field-replaceable components, meaning it can be disassembled easily for repair. In other words, it’s an aircraft after MacGyver’s heart.

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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