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Thu, Apr 05, 2007

Say Hello To The 'Turbine Toucan'

750-HP Bipe Designed For Airshows

Imagine, if you will, a 1,650-lb biplane... powered by a 750-horsepower turboprop engine, delivering close to 3,000-lbs of thrust. If your heartbeat quickened reading the previous sentence, you're just the kind of aero-head Infinity Entertainment had in mind when conceiving the Turbine Toucan ultra-high performance bipe, which made its official debut Wednesday.

Billed by the company as the world's first-ever hovering biplane, the Turbine Toucan is expected to make its first flight later this month. Designed specifically for the airshow circuit, the company expects the Toucan to make attempts at four world records by the end of 2007, including the 66-year-old biplane speed record of 323 miles per hour.

The company tells ANN it also hopes to establish two new time-to-climb records, as well as becoming the first-ever biplane to hover over a set point on the ground.

The Toucan brings impressive punch to those attempts. Infinity states the Turbine Toucan is the only civilian aircraft with a positive thrust-to-weight ratio. To put this in perspective, the F/A-18 Hornet (at fighter mission weight) weights 36,700 lbs... and has 32,000 lbs of thrust. This works out to a .87:1 thrust-to-weight ratio. In comparison, the Turbine Toucan's performance is better than 1.5:1 with pilot and fuel.

According to figures posted on the company's website, the Toucan will be able to climb at 9500/fpm, and roll 360 degrees in just over one second. Maximum G-loading rates are forecast to be +9g/-7.5g... on par with some military fighter aircraft.

Infinity Entertainment makes no bones about the purpose of the Turbine Toucan: to bring something different to the air show circuit, which is attended by over 18 million people annually in the US alone.

"Why a biplane?" Infinity asks on its website. "Because 90% of the elite air show performers are using off the shelf, factory built monoplanes (which are incredible we might add) designed for unlimited aerobatic competition. We needed to stand apart. Biplanes offer strong emotional association with the romance of flight. It also allows us to be highly differentiated with the use of a turboprop power plant. A biplane allows us to draw rich cues deep from the past while incorporating contemporary styling and the latest aviation technological innovations."

And, from the sound of it... the ability to kick some serious tailfeathers, as well...



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