WHY DEVELOP IN AFRICA?
Africa may not seem like the most logical location to carry out the development of a new type of aircraft but there are several reasons for locating the Wings4Farmers development in Africa.
The first two issues that pointed toward Africa were traffic and weather. Initial testing of levopter prototypes was done on the American prairie East of Denver, Colorado but once the basic levopter concept was confirmed there was a need to find a more ideal location for testing. There is a need to test where there is not a lot of aircraft traffic and where there is very little cloud cover.
The yellow lines in the left image show the density of aircraft traffic and Wings4Farmers sought an area without a lot of yellow lines. Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Australia and parts of Asia show limited air traffic.
The image on the right indicates the amount of cloud cover through the course of the year. Again, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Australia and a small section of Asia stand out.
The issue that narrowed the choice to Sub-Saharan Africa was one of need. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 34% of the people have access to a reliable road. During much of the year, they are cut off from the rest of the world because of the lack of decent roads. Levopters can free these people from the stranglehold of bad roads.
Developments of new technology are often carried out in developed countries and then brought to a developing region like Africa only to find out that the new technology doesn’t really work in Africa or that the people there resist using it because it is foreign to them. Locating developments in Africa means local input and advice will be readily available and as a result, levopters will be an African aircraft made in Africa by Africans for Africans.
Once Sub-Saharan Africa was selected, a team was recruited to carry out development in a region where levopters can be most beneficial. Moving developments to Bamako, Mali has already shown benefit. Early discussions with farmers led to the modification of the initial levopter concept from carrying a ton of cargo, much like a pickup truck, to splitting that ton up into 6 cargo pods to service smaller farmers. Further discussions led to the technique for collecting and transferring cargo without the need for landing a levopter. For more information see the section on How Levopters Will Be Used.
In the Earth’s atmosphere, the wind at higher altitudes is stronger than the wind nearer to the Earth’s surface. The difference between these wind strengths provides the power to create lift and propulsion for the levopter.
Key characteristics of levopters
• Levopters will require no fuel making them inexpensive to operate.
• Levopters will fly autonomously like drones. Eliminating the need for a pilot further reduces the cost of operating a levopter.
• Levopters will produce no greenhouse gases, making them environmentally friendly.
• The fuselage of the levopter will remain at low altitudes avoiding the cost and weight of a pressurized fuselage.
• The levopter’s wings will be made of fabric reducing the cost to build.
• Levopters will be able to fly slowly, allowing them to operate from any open area without the need for runways.
• Levopters will be slower than conventional aircraft but typically much faster than ground transportation.
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