LE BOURGET, France -- OK, so you've got a couple hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Sure, you could buy that flashy sports car. But why not a personal helicopter if you really want to make a statement.
That's what Sagita Helicopters hopes you'll do with its Sherpa, a dual-rotor, dual-passenger aircraft that the Belgian company showed off here at the Paris Air Show. The Sherpa has a 280-mile range (400km), said Thibaud Waltregny, business development manager for GDTech Engineering, which worked on the design.
"It's enough to get you everywhere in Belgium," Waltregny said.
The ultralight craft weighs 575 pounds and can carry a payload of up to 378 pounds more, he said. It won't break any speed records with a cruising speed of 98mph, but with a planned price of 150,000 euros, or about $200,000, he thinks it'll find buyers.
Along with wealthy hobbyists, the helicopter could appeal to companies checking pipelines and power lines, he said.
The helicopter uses a design with two sets of rotors that spin in opposite directions, an approach that is naturally balanced and that improves safety of nearby people by dropping the tail rotor.
It's only a prototype today, though. The company has built a one-fifth scale prototype that flies and is working on a full-scale prototype now.
"We expect to fly in two years, and get certification within three years," Waltregny said.
The initial market is Europe, but Sagita got interest at the air show to sell it in Canada and Russia, too.