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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Where this hovering airplane's going, we don't need roads

•, Colin Druce-McFadden
 And while escaping the gridlock is all well and good, hovering vehicles will be capable of much more than simply elevating the highway into a skyway. One such concept is the hybrid ESTOLAS
aircraft being developed by the European Commission.
ESTOLAS is short for Extremely Short Take Off and Landing On any Surface. It's a name that pretty much says it all when it comes to this strange, bulbous aircraft. By combining elements of a traditional airplane, a hovercraft, a helicopter and even a blimp, this odd duck is capable of flying anywhere on the globe, regardless of the presence of a runway. Instead, ESTOLAS will be capable of landing on any flat surface, including water and snow.
ESTOLAS is basically a traditional aircraft built around a single, massive turbine. Made of lightweight composites and then filled with helium, ESTOLAS will be capable of near-vertical take-offs while sustaining incredibly efficient fuel consumption rates. Compared to a helicopter, ESTOLAS will be capable of hauling much heavier loads much further afield.

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