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January 2007 edition

Skycar plans computerised "Henry Ford style" assembly lines for customised VTOL production

Henry Ford is reported to have joked that customers for his revolutionary mass produced car could have any colour they liked as long as it was black. Moller International, which is planning to introduce Ford style mass production and prices to the personal aircraft buyer, plans to offer better than a take it or leave it option: buyers should be able to choose the colour and the configuration as they place individual orders.

President Paul Moller is working to ensure that bespoke, affordable, luxury VTOL Skycars will roll off production lines inspired by innovations used by computer manufacturers. The 21st century Ford approach seems fitting in a symbolic as well as practical way: Moller wants the Skycar to replace the car as well as become one of the world's favoured personal aircraft.

Moller told Airframer: "General aviation aircraft up to now have been been built almost on an individual basis in very low volume with rigid guidelines from the FAA regarding all of the fundamental characteristics and only leaving a few navigation, communications and cosmetic elements available for customisation. "Automotive consumers have been able to order customised automobiles for years, though such orders account for less than 10 percent of U.S. auto sales."

But: "In part, the customisation process is not very satisfying because it can take weeks or even months to inject the individual requirements into a system set up to create high-quality but uniform products."

He says Moller Internati....

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