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Guest: Bruno Mombrinie; Topics: The Metro Hop concept and plan for a fixed wing eVTOL passenger and cargo commercial plane service. See a https://metrohop.aero and their video.
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We welcomed Bruno Mombrinie to the show for a one segment 87 minute in-depth discussion about the Metro Hop project. Be sure to watch their 2.5 minute introductory video on the Metro Hope website, https://metrohop.aero. We started the program by suggesting listeners watch the short Metro Hop video on their website, then our guest began explaining both the concept and the vehicle to us. Note that the vehicle is all electric, essentially a fixed wing eVTOL type of airplane. Check out the photos of it. The passenger version has two people aboard, great views, and is autonomous, that is, no pilot. We talked about not having a pilot for quite a while. Bruno explained the operations center, I compared it to drones so don't miss what he said about my comparison. He also made comparisons to self-driving cars, and explained why the economics of the vehicle and the concept demanded the Metro Hop plane be autonomous. In the process of going through this discussion, Bruno also went over the technology, the tech specs and more. Make sure you listen to all of what he talked about and if you have questions, please post them on the blog as Bruno will see them and likely respond to you.
Marshall was our first caller. He talked about other somewhat similar planes and technologies, cruising speed, pilot vs. no pilot and more. With Marshall asking questions, we talked about the operational altitude of Metro Hop which would be in the 2-3,000 foot range. We learned that initially the vehicle would be VFR. Part of the reason for this included weight and mass concerns. Bruno discussed their design options for fly by wire and explained why they were rejected for the early Metro Hop project.
Listeners sent in several email questions, many with a focus on the needed regulations to make this possible. Bruno talked about the FAA and changes necessary there. He then said, in response to my asking him about local regs say from San Francisco and nearby towns plus California, that the project depended on community acceptance. He went into more detail about why Metro Hop would land and take off on the top of buildings. At one point he said they might have to build their own rooftop buildings for the project. To make this possible, Bruno explained in detail the special Metro Hop landing gear. Don't miss this discussion. Share your thoughts with us by posting on the blog.
In addition to these and other topics, I asked our guest about financing and timelines. Initially they need about $25 million in seed money. They then need abut two years for a working demo - two planes. Eventually then will need a few hundred million in capital. Bruno explained why the Metro Hop project was a hard sell for venture capital folks (long payout period) so he said they were looking for strategic partners to make it happen. He explained his strategic partner idea in detail while providing us with an early progress report on their efforts to date. All told, he suggested 7-10 years to commercial operation including FAA and additional regulatory needed time.
Bruno was asked about competition. Don't miss what he said about the concept, an eVTOL plane and direct competition to Metro Hop. Listener Alice asked him about the battery pack for the plane, wondering if they would be like what is used for an electric car such as a Tesla. Bruno had much to say about the battery pack, changing out the batteries for fully charged batteries by a robot as the plan was landing and more. Listener Todd asked about the issue of liability insurance. Bruno was later asked about noise, accidents on takeoff or landing, the public fear factor of not having a pilot on board, and if Metro Hop had expansion plans. In addition, he was asked about a fixed schedule or would the vehicle be available on demand.
The subject of markets for the vehicle came up. Bruno said an average flight might last around ten minutes. He went through multiple potential markets including healthcare. Don't miss what he said about market and flight opportunities. Also the potential of using the vehicle for tourism. Toward the end of the program, Tim called wanting to know if the vehicle could be used for emergency uses and search and rescue. Bruno said that was not a good use of it and explained why. Make sure you hear his explanation.
Bruno signed off with closing comments you will want to hear. Make sure you post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Bruno though his website or me.