(In)famous flying-car firm Moller International - whose four-decade quest to produce an Everyman aerial ride has seen no aircraft delivered and a 2003 fine from the SEC for selling "fraudulent unregistered stock" - has now announced "Virtual Test Flights of [a] New Flying Car".
It seems that Moller has "created a full-featured flight simulator package for use by all who have been eager to operate the Skycar, the Company's unique 'roadable' aircraft".
So not a new flying car as such, then: the Skycar has been "in development" for many years. Still, simulations and modelling are serious engineering, aren't they?
Not this time. What we actually have here is a plug-in for Microsoft Flight Simulator (version 2004 and FSX). But hey - 7,000 downloads almost right away is impressive-ish, indicating at least some interest by wannabe pilots.
Well, it would be if it weren't for the fact that Skycar flight sim plug-ins have been available since at least 2003, and the most recent update to FSX (Flight Simulator 10) was put online nearly a year ago. Last week's announcement of "virtual test flights" didn't relate to any actual event at all.
Moller International has an accumulated deficits of $45,525,462 and a working capital deficit of $11,376,885 as of September 30, 2009. MI currently has limited recurring revenue-producing products and is continuing its development of products in both the Skycar and Rotapower engine programs. Successful completion of product development activities for either or both of these programs will require significant additional sources of capital... These factors raise substantial doubt as to MI's ability to continue as a going concern.
Historically, funding was funded by certain shareholders, including, Dr Paul S Moller ("Dr Moller"), the majority shareholder, in the form of short-term notes payable. As of September 30, 2009, amounts outstanding to Dr. Moller total $3,170,979. In addition, Dr Moller has granted MI a deferral on the payment of rent for the office building. The total deferred rent, including interest owed to Dr Moller at September 30, 2009 amounted to $3,089,563. There is no assurance that MI will continue to receive funding from shareholders in the future or that funds from other sources will be sufficient to provide MI with the capital needed to continue as a going concern.
It also appears that Dr Moller himself has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It would seem that the final long overdue death-rattle for Moller International and the Skycar can't now be long in coming.
That might sadden those like us who find the idea of personal air vehicles exciting - but it shouldn't. The main contribution to flying cars by Moller International has been to blot up tens of millions of investment without result and so tarnish the idea's image as to make things much harder for other inventors and developers.
Anyone who actually wants a flying car - or would like to see such craft fly one day - should be happy to see the Skycar go. ®