MotoPOD LLC

Mechanical Design Engineer / Manufacturing Engineer, 2009 - Present
MotoPOD LLC - Poplar Grove, Illinois
Manufacturer of removable aircraft belly pods, folding motorcycles, and aircraft loading systems.




Cirrus announced a 200 pound gross weight increase for 2013 airplanes and the MotoPOD removable belly pods will allow Cirrus owners to put those pounds to use. The pod provides an an additional 25 cubic feet of cargo space, right at the center of gravity.

A MotoPOD sensor pod, displayed by Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) at the ALEA show in New Orleans. The PSS can monitor 16 square miles at once!

MotoPod is integrating a variety of airborne sensors into our swappable belly pods, bringing powerful mission capabilities to the most common light airplanes. Laser Scanners help predict flood inundation, before it happens. Speaker pods can broadcast tsunami warnings and public alerts. Cell phone repeaters can restore communications, allowing victims to call for help, and rescue workers to receive timely information. Camera systems can survey damage, locate survivors, and guide boots on the ground. The removable/swappable belly pods will allow mission aircraft to be quickly configured for a range of applications.

This pod is in the final stages of assembly. The bulkheads and winch frame are installed in the mold for accuracy.

Carbon fiber fenders are skillfully laid up in molds, vacuum bagged and cured in an oven. After trimming and clear coat, the fender is ready to install on a customer's motorcycle. It takes a lot of work to make a full-size motorcycle small enough, and light enough, to carry inside an airplane.

This is a welding fixture that we use to make center stands for the MotoPOD custom aviation motorcycles. After welding, this center stand will be finished with black powder coat and installed on a customer's bike.

Most of MotoPod's metal hardware is cut with a water jet. Because the water jet doesn't make perfect holes, they are fixture drilled and reamed to the final size. After bending, welding and polishing, the parts are finished with a durable electroless nickel plating.

In the pod are MotoPOD's motorcycle cradles. These are removable when you want to carry other items.

Here's one of the differences between a removable RV-10 MotoPOD and a conventional belly pod. It takes a lot of extra hardware to make our pods removable in 30 seconds; fuselage hard-points, integral winch system, water jet cut latches, streamlined wheels, etc. All that fancy hardware adds to the initial purchase price but it quickly pays for itself.

A conventional belly pod will stay on your airplane and produce drag, whether you're using it or not. That full-time drag penalty will increase fuel consumption by 4-5%. Over the 40 year lifetime of your airplane, that adds up to around $16,000 in wasted gas! When considering the life-time expense, MotoPOD is the least expensive belly pod in the world.

MotoPOD recently flew this custom sensor pod for a $1.5 million wide area surveillance system. Other sensor pods are in development for EO/IR, Lidar, speakers and other payloads. The 60-second removable design allows plug-and-play mission capability.

Mold rotated the mold to work on a level surface.

This picture shows a load test of a composite sandwich specimen. This particular test was performed to verify the suitability of a lighter foam core. The test confirmed our theoretical estimates of both the stiffness and strength. In the end, the lighter foam core was utilized in our RV-10 belly pods for a weight savings of nearly two pounds.

Mold tiltd so vacuum bagging materials can be easily positioned.

This RV-10 belly pod is being vacuum bagged. After sealing the mold in plastic, a small vacuum pump can apply thousands of pounds of pressure to squeeze out excess resin and reduce weight. The vacuum bagging process also reduces air bubbles and other imperfections.

The PA-32/34 MotoLOAD system has more than 75 welded parts and it takes around a dozen welding fixtures to ensure that everything is built accurately.

MotoPOD's removable belly pods are fitted with wheels for easy ground handling. Roll the pod underneath your airplane, then winch it up to the belly, where it secures with latches.The wheel housing is streamlined to reduce drag. As part of MotoPOD's attention to detail, the wheels are partially recessed into the belly of the pod, and axle hardware is flush with the surface.



More Pictures:
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