The Aurora LightningStrike is being developed by Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, Virginia. The LightningStrike is a military variant of Aurora's VTOL projects.
Stage of Development
LightningStrike is the first aircraft in history designed to demonstrate the following:
- Distributed hybrid-electric propulsion ducted fans
- Innovative synchronous electric-drive system
- Both tilt wing and canard for vertical take-off and landing
- High efficiency in both hover and high-speed forward flight
- Created by Aurora Flight Sciences and partners Rolls-Royce and Honeywell
- Developed for the Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Aircraft (VTOL X-Plane) program
- Funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
|Fuselage length||> 38 ft||11.8 m|
|Overall height||~14 ft||4.3 m|
|Wingspan||> 60 ft||> 18.2 m|
|Tip-to-tip distance||> 60 ft||> 18.2 m|
|Empty weight||~ 11,375 lb||~ 5.16 t|
|Max gross takeoff wt||<13,000 lb||< 5.9 t|
|Useful load||~ 1,625 lb||~ 737 kg|
|Cruise speed||> 300 kt||>555 km/h|
|Propulsors||24 ducted fans|
|Motor output||18x 168 hp + 6x 121 hp||18x 125 kW + 6x 90 kW|
|Power type||hybrid electric|
Our Take on the LightningStrike
Aurora Flight Sciences has a large pool of resources at its disposal - even more so now that Boeing acquired AFS in November of 2017. The LightningStrike seems to be a conscientious effort to corner not just the civilian eVTOL/VTOL market, but also the future of military VTOL applications. The LightningStrike has already completed sub-scale proof of concept test flights, and the full-scale version is most likely being prepared to be built.
The Latest News from TransportUP
Volocopter to Receive EASA’s Design Organisation ApprovalDecember 11, 2019
Vertiport Builder Skyports raises £5.35 Million in Series A Funding RoundDecember 9, 2019
Urban Air Mobility at Amsterdam Drone Week 2019December 8, 2019
Back to The Hangar
Boeing Subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences announced yesterday that a recent agreement from DARPA will allow for the transfer of Aurora’s X-plane developed eVTOL technology to commercial applications. The x-plane technology, largely focused on piloting ducted fan and electric battery implementation in vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, will now be slated for wide-spread commercial application. The technology also included tilt-wing and...
Boeing Subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences announced yesterday that a recent agreement from DARPA will allow for the transfer of Aurora’s X-plane developed eVTOL technology to commercial applications.
The x-plane technology, largely focused on piloting ducted fan and electric battery implementation in vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, will now be slated for wide-spread commercial application. The technology also included tilt-wing and tilt-canard-based propulsion.
Why it’s important: DARPA’s involvement in shepherding research-stage technology to commercial wide-scale implementation is indicative of government involvement and activism toward advancing the field of eVTOL aircraft. This announcement also reflects the quantity of work to be done if larger scale regulators, such as the FAA and EASA, plan to certify these new airborne systems as quickly as they are being researched and developed.
13 Dutch companies have joined together to realize the full potential of urban aerial mobility The Royal Schiphol Group has announced that, along with 12 other companies including KLM and Air Traffic Control of the Netherlands (LVNL), they will establish Dutch Drone Delta, an alliance aimed at developing “smart, sustainable UAM solutions,” set to launch in January 1st, 2020. The...
13 Dutch companies have joined together to realize the full potential of urban aerial mobility
The Royal Schiphol Group has announced that, along with 12 other companies including KLM and Air Traffic Control of the Netherlands (LVNL), they will establish Dutch Drone Delta, an alliance aimed at developing “smart, sustainable UAM solutions,” set to launch in January 1st, 2020. The alliance will look to work with various partners, both domestic and international, to explore innovative solutions towards the development of urban aerial mobility.
Starting on January 1st, Dutch Drone Delta will pursue 5 main tracks towards the continued development of drone and UAM technology:
- Social embracement of drones and UAM
- Autonomous long-distance flights
- Safe integration of manned and unmanned traffic
- Delivery by drones
- Transport of cargo and people between and within cities
Dutch Drone Delta will work on the essential requirements for the successful integration of drones and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in Dutch society, including public approval and safe integration into both manned and unmanned airspace. By using drones for medical deliveries, surveillance and inspections of ports and ultimately the transport of cargo and people by air the socially added value will be shown to the general public. In the first year, a study will be conducted to assess relevant requirements and potential infrastructure locations. An assessment will also be conducted to determine how UAM will impact the living environment.
According to Henk Jan Gerzee, chief digital and innovation officer at Royal Schiphol Group:
We feel it’s important to participate in any promising mobility-related developments. That’s why we’re currently working with our partners to explore the future. We want to determine Urban Air Mobility’s potential in terms of improving airport accessibility
The alliance consists of partners who can contribute both financially and with experience in the aviation/UAM sector. The partners are KLM, Air Traffic Control The Netherlands (LVNL), Royal Schiphol Group, Port of Rotterdam, KPN, a.s.r. insurance, RAI, Connekt, Antea Group, Space53, Royal NLR, AirHub and Department of Waterways and Public Works.
Why it’s important: The foundation of Dutch Drone Delta is aimed at the safe integration of drones and UAM in a socially sustainable and economically feasible way. According to the partners, the Netherlands is well positioned to play a leading role, with a rich history in aviation, an innovative nature and the will to work together. With interest in urban aerial mobility growing
Source // Schiphol Newsroom
Volocopter is the first eVTOL startup on record to receive DOA from EASA. German electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer Volocopter has been working closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) through a series of audits to prove the safety of its manufacturing process. This week, EASA awarded Volocopter with Design Organisation Approval (DOA), confirming the safe...
Volocopter is the first eVTOL startup on record to receive DOA from EASA.
German electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer Volocopter has been working closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) through a series of audits to prove the safety of its manufacturing process. This week, EASA awarded Volocopter with Design Organisation Approval (DOA), confirming the safe and controlled performance of the company’s processes. “Receiving this seal of approval from EASA is testament to our rigorously professional processes, world class team, and devotion to safety here at Volocopter,” says Jan-Hendrik Boelens, CTO and Head of Design Organization of Volocopter.
As an approved Design Organisation, Volocopter has gained a competitive edge in development speed, while maintaining a guarantee of the highest safety standards. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has been designing and testing various models of its prototype eVTOLs in Bruchsal, Germany and successfully completed its first urban manned flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay in October of this year.
EASA is the European Union’s aviation authority and regulator, ensuring the highest level of safety protection. The regulator awards DOA to companies they have thoroughly audited with regards to their organisation, processes, resources, and staff expertise. Key aspects the agency checks before giving their seal of approval are clearly defined throughout certain processes that also need to be lived in everyday work, safety awareness, and the organisation. The audits ultimately serve to assess and decide whether a company can bring a safe aircraft to market.
By awarding a DOA, EASA entrusts a growing range of responsibilities to Volocopter as per a set of rules and processes. The key effect of having a DOA is that EASA exercises surveillance to the organization as a whole, and the involvement can be reduced to fewer steps on the way to the final commercial certification. Consequently, product development can be conducted at a faster pace by the approved organization. These privileges accompanying DOA can eventually include elements such as issuing approvals of changes or even issuing a permit to fly for its test aircraft allowing to conduct engineering and certification flight test of Volocopter’s commercial air taxi. “Design Organisation Approval is a crucial step towards receiving commercial certification and brings air taxis ever closer!” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter.
Earlier this year EASA also finalized and published the Special Condition VTOL, the world’s first certification baseline specifically created for air taxis, under which Volocopter is in process to get its aircraft certified. The announcement answered some of the questions surrounding the required level of certification and safety in the development process for VTOLs, especially ones intended for usage in urban air mobility.
Why it’s important: Receiving EASA DOA thus proves to be a strong competitive advantage for Volocopter within the global context, and may contribute to the company widening the gap in the race to certify the world’s first commercially applicable urban air taxi. In conjunction with EASA’s “Special Condition,” the issuance of DOA to Volocopter clarifies expectations and sets a precedent to follow as other eVTOL manufacturers submit for similar certifications.
Source // Volocopter
The urban air mobility infrastructure provider announced the Series A funding round last week Skyports, an urban air mobility infrastructure provider and drone delivery operator, announced on December 5th that they’ve raised £5.35 million in Series A funding. The funding round was jointly led by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) and Groupe ADP. Levitate Capital also participated in this funding round following their seed...
The urban air mobility infrastructure provider announced the Series A funding round last week
Skyports, an urban air mobility infrastructure provider and drone delivery operator, announced on December 5th that they’ve raised £5.35 million in Series A funding. The funding round was jointly led by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) and Groupe ADP. Levitate Capital also participated in this funding round following their seed investment in the company in January 2018.
Skyports’ mission is to “connect the world through our skies by building and operating critical infrastructure for urban air mobility and managing end to end drone deliveries” and is based in London, with projects in Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe.
This capital allows Skyports to continue its mission plan: acquire sites for passenger and cargo vertiports in cities around the world, including Singapore and Los Angeles, and develop said sites. Following the Singapore showcase of the world’s first passenger vertiport in October – the VoloPort – in partnership with air taxi manufacturer Volocopter, Skyports has received substantial interest from landlords in the city state and other cities around the world.
Duncan Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Skyports, commented on the recent close of the Series A round:
“We are delighted to welcome strategic investors with a long-term vision for the company. Our investors bring expertise in mobility, infrastructure and airport operations. Their significant balance sheets and strong leadership in their respective markets allow Skyports to consolidate its leading position in the industry in these early stages and through to permanent commercial operations in multiple markets.”
“Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles are a new expression of airport activity – infrastructure, vehicle handling and passenger experience – and we are setting ourselves up to play a leading role in the development of Urban Air Mobility in the Paris Region and internationally through our 25 airports worldwide,” said Edward Arkwright, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Groupe ADP. “This strategic partnership will allow us to develop a deeper understanding of the emerging VTOL market and will provide strong synergies through Skyports’ expertise in urban areas.”
The urban aviation market is anticipated to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040, $850 billion of which due to passenger vehicles and $400 billion by the transportation of goods by drone, according to a Morgan Stanley study. Significant investment has gone into the vehicles and research and development enabling technology whilst urban air mobility (UAM) infrastructure is under-invested. Without the take-off and landing infrastructure in place, the nascent UAM industry will fail to realize its market and socio-economic potential.
DBDV and Groupe ADP will take seats on the Skyports Board. Skyports has the option for a second close in the Series A round in the near future.
Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures
Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) is the corporate venture capital unit of Europe’s largest passenger and cargo railway operator, Deutsche Bahn. DBDV invests in new data-based business models in the fields of smart mobility, smart logistics and smart cities which utilize Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT). The start-ups are not only gaining venture capital, but also get access to experts, DBs data, customers and markets.
Groupe ADP develops and manages airports, including Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget. In 2018, the group handled through its brand Paris Aéroport more than 105 million passengers and 2.3 million metric tonnes of freight and mail at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly, and more than 176 million passengers in airports abroad through its subsidiary ADP International. Boasting an exceptional geographic location and a major catchment area, the Group is pursuing its strategy of adapting and modernizing its terminal facilities and upgrading quality of services; the group also intends to develop its retail and real estate businesses. In 2018, group revenue stood at €4,478 million and net income at €610 million.
Levitate Capital is a venture firm focused on next-generation air mobility. They see the coming revolution in how people use and experience aviation for transportation, logistics, and other use cases as one of the profound transformations of modern society. Their investments cover a broad range of ventures, from enabling systems that will let these craft fly electrically, autonomously, quietly and safely to building and operating the new air vehicles as well as business models that will complement aerial mobility networks of the future.
Why it’s important: This additional financial commitment to Skyports will allow the company to further advance its developments of vertiports across the world, and also reinforces the latent demand for construction of the infrastructure to support sustained, scaled commercial air taxi operations in the 5-10 year time frame. The unveiling of the Voloport in Singapore generated a significant buzz amongst industry members and the general public alike, as it was one of the first instantiations of a physical vertiport that allows individuals to understand what a potential customer experience of an air taxi flight would look and feel like. Expect Skyports to ascertain whether future additional funding is prudent, or whether the company devotes all focus to development of further refinements to their vertiport technology.
Amsterdam Drone Week opened this week, and urban air mobility took center stage. The second annual Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW) took place on December 4th-6th this week, and provided a global venue for exchanging knowledge and expertise on current as well as future air mobility solutions, innovations, and essential regulations. RAI Amsterdam served as the focal point for top-level players, large...
Amsterdam Drone Week opened this week, and urban air mobility took center stage.
The second annual Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW) took place on December 4th-6th this week, and provided a global venue for exchanging knowledge and expertise on current as well as future air mobility solutions, innovations, and essential regulations. RAI Amsterdam served as the focal point for top-level players, large and small, commercial and non-commercial, from various industries, knowledge institutes and authorized bodies to come together to create, innovate, and collaborate.
Philip Butterworth Hayes, the editor of Urban Air Mobility News, appropriately kicked things off: creating a vision not only of a world where drones provide an integral part of urban transportation systems – but where humans and robots establish a working relationship. “What do we want to achieve this week?” asked Hayes. “We need to achieve a closer understanding of the drone market and its potential, both in the short and long term.” If that isn’t enough of a challenge, Hayes says that Urban Air Mobility is nothing short of a revolution. UAM represents a complete change in thinking for cities. “We’re creating a new transportation ecosystem,” says Hayes. “The last time we did that was in 1945, when we started the commercial aviation industry.”
To discuss and brainstorm ideas for the new transportation ecosystem, Hayes moderated a roundtable discussion on “Reinventing Mobility” featuring key industry experts and innovators. The speakers included CMO Europe at EHang Andreas Perroti, Founder of AirMap Ben Marcus, Innovation and Deployment Director at ERTICO Dr. Johanna Tzanidaki, and Director New Business Ventures at Boeing Next John Damush. Boeing also hosted a handful of presentations on the Future of Airspace Management as well as Mobility & Sustainable Aviation.
In another address at ADW, Dr. Johanna Tzanidaki explained the “Internet of Mobility” and what that means for the future of drone transportation. ERTICO is focused on Intelligent Transport Systems, or ITS. ERTICO’s vision for mobility is a shared, digital, multi-modal and on-demand network. In practical terms, that means logging on to one system and determining the best and most convenient way to get from point A to point B: combining modes like bikes, cars, and drones as appropriate. Companies like BLADE are already providing services that combine multiple modes of transportation, and technology like that of ERTICO could be a solution that leads to further optimization.
ADW was also an opportunity for Avy to reveal its new long-endurance VTOL drone designed for lifesaving beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) missions. The vehicle, named Aera, features modular payload capabilities, integrated avionics, and redundant communications, and will be used, amongst other things, in the Medical Drone Service pilot project, launched earlier this week. The Medical Drone Service will investigate safe and reliable transport of blood products and medicines between blood banks and hospitals over the next three years. During the exhibition, Avy performed live flight demonstrations in the drone arena on each day, and displayed the Aera in the showcase area. Founder Mr Patrique Zaman also hosted a humble talk on his success thus far with Avy and the future of Urban Air Mobility.
Why it’s important: Amsterdam Drone Week is seeing growing success in its ability to rally key industry leaders, regulators, and manufacturers together for the purpose of expediting a new transportation ecosystem safely and efficiently. It’s the continual efforts of conferences and gatherings like ADW that will ultimately shape the aerial mobility industry and aid in garnering the public’s acceptance.
Sources // dronelife; Amsterdam Drone Week
The Workhorse Group have officially let go of their Surefly and Horsefly to Moog Inc Workhorse Group, a US manufacturing company dedicated to manufacturing electrically powered delivery and utility vehicles, have sold the assets for their trademarked SureFly eVTOL to Moog Inc as well as all related hybrid electric power system technologies. The two transactions, for the SureFly and HorseFly, were...
The Workhorse Group have officially let go of their Surefly and Horsefly to Moog Inc
Workhorse Group, a US manufacturing company dedicated to manufacturing electrically powered delivery and utility vehicles, have sold the assets for their trademarked SureFly eVTOL to Moog Inc as well as all related hybrid electric power system technologies. The two transactions, for the SureFly and HorseFly, were finalized on October 1, 2019, with the closings taking place on November 27, 2019. According to Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes:
Building strong relationships through partnerships and transactions with world-class operators like Moog has always been a key area of focus for our company. In selling SureFly, we have been able to monetize a secondary asset, which will provide us with additional working capital for our core business, which is the manufacturing of electric last-mile delivery vehicles.
In a second separate transaction, the company also entered a joint venture with Moog Inc concerning Workhorse’s HorseFly “last mile delivery” Aerial System. Under the new agreement, Workhorse and Moog will each own 50% of the equity interests in the newly formed joint venture. Workhorse will contribute assets and material related to the HorseFly, while Moog will contribute complementary assets, intellectual property (IP) and other related technology. According to Workhorse, the purpose of the new joint venture is for the purpose of sharing and advancing technology and intellectual properties related to the development of unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.
On the new joint venture, Hughes said:
Through our HorseFly [Joint Venture], we’re looking forward to taking another existing Workhorse technology and leveraging the experience and resources of an established enterprise to tackle new markets and create outcomes there are greater than just the sum of the parts.
For additional details regarding the transactions, please reference the Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on December 4, 2019.
Why it’s important: With Workhorse Group having monetized their assets in the SureFly and HorseFly, Moog Inc. will now have a chance to see if the SureFly and HorseFly will hold any promise in the aviation industry. Workhorse previously predicted that future applications of the SureFly could be in “precision agriculture, urban commutes, emergency response, military, and more.” Moog Inc. will now have the chance to incorporate the SureFly into these potential fields, while the Cleveland-based company will return to the design and manufacturing sector rather than the aviation sector.
EHang is one step closer to realizing its aerial mobility vision EHang today announced its strategic partnership with property developer Heli Chuangxin Real Estate Co. Ltd. to build out an urban air mobility (UAM) demonstration project in Guangzhou. This is a major milestone as EHang prepares for the launch of commercial operations of its much-anticipated autonomous flying taxis. Under the...
EHang is one step closer to realizing its aerial mobility vision
EHang today announced its strategic partnership with property developer Heli Chuangxin Real Estate Co. Ltd. to build out an urban air mobility (UAM) demonstration project in Guangzhou. This is a major milestone as EHang prepares for the launch of commercial operations of its much-anticipated autonomous flying taxis.
Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Heli Chuangxin and EHang are committed to building up the infrastructure for the world’s first commercial in-city sightseeing UAM route in Guangzhou.
On November 30, two passenger-grade AAVs of the two-seater EHang 216 model performed simultaneous flight demos, vertically taking off from and landing at Heli Tiande Centre in Guangzhou on the Centre’s opening day. Six EHang 216 AAVs were also on display.
“Today’s demo flights mark another key step forward in Guangzhou’s journey to making urban air mobility a reality and lead global efforts in such commercial operations,” said Hu Huazhi, EHang’s founder, chairman, and CEO. “We are thrilled to be working together with our partners to enable safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly urban air travel as soon as possible.”
The November 30 demos took place four months after EHang announced that it had selected Guangzhou as its first UAM pilot city globally. EHang and Guangzhou plan to establish a low-altitude air transportation network that shuttles passengers and cargo in a safe, fast, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient manner.
The pilot program enables EHang to test more flight routes and vertiports before moving into passenger-grade commercial operations. Last year, EHang already started commercial operations of air cargo transportation in and near its home base in Guangzhou, working with the express delivery company DHL-Sinotrans and retail company Yonghui.
In January 2019, EHang was selected by the Civil Aviation Administration of China as the country’s first and only pilot company for passenger-grade AAV programs. To date, EHang has safely conducted over two thousand test flights both inside and outside of China to ensure that its AAVs operate safely and reliably.
Why it matters: This milestone partnership for EHang and Heli Chuangxin Real Estate Co. Ltd. represents the progress made by the aerial mobility manufacturer. EHang appears to be on a strong growth trajectory as the company has made strides to build up its pilot program and autonomous route network in its first target city, Guangzhou. Further, the company has begun the process of filing for its IPO in the United States. Expect to see EHang making waves in the aerial mobility space in the coming weeks and months as they prepare to begin commercial operations.
South Korea-based global automaker further commits to investments in mobility Hyundai has announced further involvement in the aerial mobility industry, not long after the company announced that it’s committing resources to bring an air taxi to market by 2023 – the same year that Uber Elevate aims to deploy limited commercial eVTOL operations to customers. The total investment of almost $52...
South Korea-based global automaker further commits to investments in mobility
Hyundai has announced further involvement in the aerial mobility industry, not long after the company announced that it’s committing resources to bring an air taxi to market by 2023 – the same year that Uber Elevate aims to deploy limited commercial eVTOL operations to customers.
The total investment of almost $52 billion USD is earmarked toward electric vehicles, flying cars, and disruptive mobility solutions. Hyundai also recently appointed Dr. Jaiwon Shin as EVP of its newly established Urban Air Mobility business division, a tangible commitment of human resources to pair with the substantial financial commitment that spans a much large scope than just aerial mobility.
The financial commitment is two-pronged: the first being traditional automotive advancements, leveraging electric motor technology, autonomous driving aids, and last-mile solutions to better current automotive tech to your every-day commute, while the second focuses on clean sheet aerial transportation systems that’ll connect riders between airports and urban centers, and inter-city hops with target ranges of less than 100 miles.
Hyundai already has invested large sums in electric vehicle tech, and similar to Airbus’ collaboration with ItalDesign and Audi, could be weighing the advantages of a ride/fly system, such as the Pop.Up Next, which combines the advantages of a tradition car or shuttle in urban environments with an adaptable “hovertrain” that adds on electric vertical lift motors that allow the “car” portion of the aircraft to convert to an eVTOL and transfer riders over longer, more congested routes. Such a design has not been confirmed by Hyundai, but certainly wouldn’t be ruled out of the realm of possibility due to the company’s experience and presence in the automotive industry.
One area that may challenge Hyundai is establishing aerospace-quality manufacturing standards – while the automaker has no challenge meeting high production rates of its affordable line of cars, standing up the complex composite and aerospace-spec manufacturing processes that add cost and complexity will be a hurdle that Hyundai will need to clear to win a portion of the eVTOL market share.
Why it’s important: Hyundai, and many other large automakers, are much more involved in the aerial mobility and innovative transportation industries than they’re given credit – most of these large companies have R&D sectors dedicated to advancement of tech that’ll both increase the efficiency of current solutions to mobility and define the future architecture for transport in the 10-20 year rollout time frame. Similar to recent aerospace acquisitions of mobility companies (such as the recently announced Boeing and Kitty Hawk Corporation merger, Wisk), expect additional announcements from other large automakers in the coming months and years that signal increased involvement in the aerial mobility industry.
The two companies will perform a joint study on the future of aircraft electrification for UAM BAE Systems and Jaunt Air Mobility signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreeing to explore the development of electric energy management systems in urban aerial mobility. This MoU will also have the two companies collaborate on examining current aircraft power management needs and gain...
The two companies will perform a joint study on the future of aircraft electrification for UAM
BAE Systems and Jaunt Air Mobility signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreeing to explore the development of electric energy management systems in urban aerial mobility. This MoU will also have the two companies collaborate on examining current aircraft power management needs and gain a “deeper understanding of the extension of urban traffic into the airspace.”
BAE Systems, having announced their intentions to enter the electric aviation market a few months prior, have made their next step by involving Jaunt Air. “The collaboration with Jaunt Air Mobility leverages the strengths of two industry-leading companies to develop technology for a new ecosystem,” said Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems.
“This strategic collaboration builds on our two decades of heritage as we develop and certify controls and energy management systems for the future of flight.” – Ehtisham Siddiqui
Jaunt Air Mobility, currently in the process of submitting their own eVTOL as a partner of Uber Elevate, seeks to improve their power systems management through this MoU. Both companies stand to gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets with this agreement, and their alignment in interest is what lead to this collobaration. “BAE Systems’ development and integration expertise in high integrity controls and power management systems gives our business an edge in the development of next generation air vehicles for urban environments,” said Kaydon Stanzione, chief executive officer at Jaunt Air Mobility.
“Their proven track record from concept design through manufacturing was a major selection consideration for our business as we strive to provide the highest level of safety and efficiency for our aircraft.” -Kaydon Stanzione
BAE Systems has 20-plus years of experience developing and integrating electric propulsion systems. The company has more than 10,000 electric-hybrid systems on transit buses and marine vessels around the globe, including major cities such as Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco. The company also has more than 40 years of experience in controls and avionics for military and commercial aircraft.
Jaunt Air Mobility LLC is an aerospace company focused on developing advanced air vehicles that incorporate innovative technologies and management strategies, providing the highest levels of operational efficiencies, safety, and community acceptance. The company is a pioneer and world leader in the aerospace industry with the design and development of its Reduced Rotor Operating Speed Aircraft (ROSA™) solution for urban air mobility.
Why it’s important: WIth the experience in electric propulsion systems provided by BAE and the in-depth knowledge of the UAM market from Jaunt Air Mobility, this MoU is intended to address a lucrative topic in the future, the shift from a hybrid/conventional eVTOL model to a fully electric eVTOL model. The first to develop a working, fully electric eVTOL capable of providing the same benefits as conventional engines will have the ability to dominate both the electric aviation and UAM markets over the next few decades.
Source // Press Release by BAE Systems
Avy’s Aera is a long-endurance VTOL drone designed for lifesaving BVLOS missions. Avy is a ‘wing drones for good’ company, pioneering in innovative aircraft technology for the transition to sustainable aviation and focusing on life-saving missions. Avy is a Dutch manufacturer winged drones, which combine the vertical take-off capability of a drone with an airplane’s efficiency in horizontal flight, thus...
Avy’s Aera is a long-endurance VTOL drone designed for lifesaving BVLOS missions.
Avy is a ‘wing drones for good’ company, pioneering in innovative aircraft technology for the transition to sustainable aviation and focusing on life-saving missions. Avy is a Dutch manufacturer winged drones, which combine the vertical take-off capability of a drone with an airplane’s efficiency in horizontal flight, thus enabling beyond visual lines of sight delivery. Avy drones are used for applications such as first response operations, medical deliveries, nature conservation purposes and search & rescue.
Avy will launch its “lifesaving wing drone” this week (December 4th – 6th) at the Amsterdam Drone Week. During the exhibition, the company will be giving live flight demonstrations in the drone arena on each day, and will be on display in the showcase area. Founder Mr Patrique Zaman will also host a talk on Urban Air Mobility.
The Aera is designed for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) missions and features modular payload capabilities, integrated avionics, and redundant communications. The aircraft will be used, amongst other things, in the Medical Drone Service pilot project, launched earlier this week. The Medical Drone Service will investigate safe and reliable transport of blood products and medicines between blood banks and hospitals over the next three years.
We use drone technology to have a positive impact on the world by saving lives. Avy flies autonomously and can cover long distances thanks to its wings, and can transport packages of 1.5 kilos in cold chain conditions. We took to the air because we don’t want road traffic to slow us down, and we have the possibility to reach our destination in a straight line. Avy is a ‘wing drones for good’ company and produces zero emissions. You may just call it the superhero of this new technological era.
– Mr. Patrique Zaman, Founder of Avy
Avy also recently announced a partnership with Auterion, an open-source based operating system for enterprise drone. The Avy Aera drone will leverage the complete Auterion software platform, including the operating system, Auterion Enterprise PX4, the Auterion Ground Station software for flight planning, and Auterion Insights for flight, safety, and compliance management.
Why it’s important: Avy’s attention to current and future regulations will ultimately be a determining factor in the Aera’s success and ability to carry out its mission. The drone is designed to meet the latest EU regulations and with a range of over 100 km carrying cargo or sensor payloads up to 1,5 kg, and is equipped with onboard redundant communication links (RF, LTE, Satlink) and ADS-B transponder. As mentioned, Avy Aera is able to operate BVLOS and is compliant with the upcoming EASA regulations, by following the SORA framework.
Source // Avy
Kitty Hawk recently rebranded as Wisk.Aero in a move many news outlets are stating is resultant of turmoil within the company. Regardless, the firms’ planned rollout of aerial mobility solutions in New Zealand is touted on the new wisk.aero website – along with the advantages of New Zealand as a location for piloting urban mobility solutions. Wisk touts the more...
Kitty Hawk recently rebranded as Wisk.Aero in a move many news outlets are stating is resultant of turmoil within the company. Regardless, the firms’ planned rollout of aerial mobility solutions in New Zealand is touted on the new wisk.aero website – along with the advantages of New Zealand as a location for piloting urban mobility solutions.
Wisk touts the more than 1,000 flights that Cora has completed to date, and is the result of the recent partnership announced between Boeing HorizonX (the venture arm of Boeing) and Kitty Hawk Corporation. Wisk’s CEO, Gary Gysin, is among board members that also include Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing NeXT, along with Logan Jones, VP of Boeing HorizonX. The mission of Wisk, according to the website, is unchanged from that of Kitty Hawk – less the rebrand.
Additionally, the organization features New Zealand local representatives as well – Anna Kominik serves as the New Zealand country director for the company, helping to advance local policy and establish New Zealand as a global contender among future mobility projects.
However, no timelines are presented for when Cora may operate on its first commercially-serviced route in New Zealand, as the company has publicly announced that no flights with paying customers would occur “until the time is right”. The company says that New Zealand has a “safety-focused regulatory environment” and “a strong history of excellence in airspace management”.
Boeing’s partnership with KittyHawk Corporation may also play well with recent advances made by the company related to the SkyGrid systems – a partnership between Boeing and sparkcognition, the world’s leader in AI. SkyGrid is establishing UTM solutions (low altitude airspace management) that’ll allow for drones and eVTOLs to interact with one another autonomously and deconflict an increased quantity of air traffic. That same UTM technology, when integrated with Wisk’s operating plan in New Zealand, would serve as the basis for a small, commercial eVTOL operation.
Why it’s important: The formal rebranding of Kitty Hawk as Wisk comes almost six months after the June announcement of a partnership between Boeing and the eVTOL maker. Since that announcement, numerous challenges have faced both companies, but the quantity and quality of resource pools and financial support from each will most likely contribute to persistent progress toward officially developing and deploying the systems that are being tested today.
Sharing strong synergies with the existing Volocopter platform, the VoloDrone presents an unmanned, fully electric utility drone, capable of carrying heavy payloads. The VoloDrone has been designed and engineered to serve challenging missions across diverse industries, adding the third dimension to sustainable transport.
Stage of Development
1 General Aircraft
Type: Unmanned multicopter
Aspired Certification: EASA CS UAS
Power type: Electric/batteries
Take-off mass (MTOM): 800 kg
Payload: 200 kg
Equipment: Box, sling, sprayer, spreader, customised gear
Range: 40 km
Cruise speed (Vc): 80 km/h
Max speed (Vne): 110 km/h
Materials used: Composite, aluminium, 3D printed nylon
Number of rotors: 18
Power supply: Battery packs
Battery type: Lithium-ion
Battery system: Exchangeable rechargeable battery packs
Battery swapping time: < 5 min
Engine type: Brushless DC electric motor (BLDC)
Number of motors: 18
Our Take on VoloDrone
The first flight of the VoloDrone demonstrator in October 2019 marks the beginning of intensive customer interaction in real-life applications, which provides the basis for the serial product. Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are seeing new opportunities to apply aerial mobility technology to the logistics industry, and as it leads to increased competition in the sector, could benefit and expedite the implementation of the technology for human transportation.With the VoloDrone's adaptable payload system, Volocopter aims to reach a wide swath of market opportunities ranging from agriculture, logistics, and infrastructure to public services, all while offering time and cost advantages compared to existing solutions.
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Back to The Hangar
Uber and NASA are collaborating to simulate the future of eVTOL ridesharing services. According to NASA, the end goal of the collaboration with Uber is a safe and efficient air transportation system where everything from small package-delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis operate over populated areas – from small towns to the largest cities. Researchers at NASA’s Ames and Langley...
Uber and NASA are collaborating to simulate the future of eVTOL ridesharing services.
According to NASA, the end goal of the collaboration with Uber is a safe and efficient air transportation system where everything from small package-delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis operate over populated areas – from small towns to the largest cities.
Researchers at NASA’s Ames and Langley Research Centers are developing technologies for UAM airspace management to make large-scale operations possible. Researchers at Ames have already studied, designed and tested technologies that could soon be used for drone airspace management, even in complex urban landscapes.
In this partnership, Uber is sharing its plans for implementing an aerial mobility eVTOL rideshare network. NASA meanwhile, as America’s aeronautics research agency, is using the latest in airspace management computer modeling and data collection to assess the impacts of small aircraft in crowded environments, and begin designing management systems.
A series of collaborative meetings between NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Air Traffic and NextGen organizations, and Uber, are currently ongoing at NASA Ames Research Center. The focus of these meetings is to discuss near- and mid-term UAM procedures and identify top priorities in development and regulation. In fact, the Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) project’s Increasing Diverse Operations (IDO) subproject recently led a discussion on long term research needs for new entrants into the National Airspace System (NAS).
An engineering evaluation called “X2” saw the NASA Air Traffic Management Exploration (ATM-X) Urban Air Mobility (UAM) team collaborate with Uber Elevate to run a complete simulation of eVTOL flights over Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The NASA team demonstrated the X2 simulation’s use cases such as a live connection to Uber’s simulation facilities and virtual flights. The series of 40-minute test scenarios was reported to be a success, and further simulations are already being planned..
Why it’s important: Simulating eVTOL air traffic over Dallas is a key part of beginning Uber’s aerial ridesharing services planned to begin as early as 2023. Through sophisticated simulations, Uber and NASA will allow involved parties to understand and successfully plan the management of airspace. Uber plans to conduct demonstration flights in Dallas in 2020.
Source // NASA, Uber
When Day VMC isn’t possible, how will future aerial mobility solutions cope? Aircraft flying across the world encounter varying atmospheric conditions every day: from rain, winds, fog, freezing temperatures to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, aerospace innovation has excelled in addressing the technical challenges of operating aircraft in some of the harshest environments on earth. But, not all that...
When Day VMC isn’t possible, how will future aerial mobility solutions cope?
Aircraft flying across the world encounter varying atmospheric conditions every day: from rain, winds, fog, freezing temperatures to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, aerospace innovation has excelled in addressing the technical challenges of operating aircraft in some of the harshest environments on earth. But, not all that flies is immune to the challenges of our ever-changing atmosphere.
Take helicopters, for instance. While a portion of helicopters are equipped for IMC (in meteorological conditions) or IFR flight, the vast majority of helicopter operations are conducted in day or night VMC (visual meteorological conditions), while all Part 121 operated commercial aircraft fly IFR exclusively. Aside from the regulatory requirements that mandate large turbojet commercial air carriers operate using an elevated standard of navigational precision, the little to no requirements of the sort exist for helicopter operations conducted for hire, and in many cases those helicopter operations cease when weather dips below VFR or Marginal VFR minimums – a discrepancy that may be attributed to many helicopter operations occurring in chartered (Part 135) scenarios.
So what of the future of vertical, commercial aircraft operations – how will weather and operational regulations define the requirements of the future? A number of analogous cases may be drawn between eVTOL and helicopter operation vs. the commercial airline industry.
Air Traffic Management
Commercial air travel occurs almost exclusively under Part 121 regulations due to the volume and safety requirements of thousands of aircraft operating in the same airspace each day in the US alone. If the entire slate of commercial aircraft were to operate under visual flight rules, flight during many seasons that bring inclement weather simply wouldn’t be possible. Looking forward, though, the advancements in Air Traffic Management that are being piloted by companies such as AirMap (low-altitude airspace management), Skydio (proprietary see and avoid technology in consumer drones) and others such as Boeing’s SkyGrid and Airbus’ UTM offer integration packages that can vastly increase the quantity of air traffic in a given sector while maintaining high latency and location reporting precision.
These features, when implemented at scale, orchestrate pre-defined low-altitude air traffic routes, much like the Victor airways in the US and other airways globally that allow for stratification and organization of air traffic.Once navigation pathways are defined, managing operations on these pre-set routes is much easier, even when weather and environmental factors are at play, as a thunderstorm cell or icing pocket will be approached via a similar ground path for all traffic heading in one direction or the other: a controller (or in the future, airspace management dashboard) need simply re-define the airway that traffic is operating on to avoid the discrepant weather or atmospheric condition – resulting in a new pre-defined path that avoids conflict. In addition, this redefinition of an airway allows for controller workload alleviation, as the current solution requires a discrete, individual reroute from a human air traffic controller for each commercial flight in operation. This approach combines the advantages of preferred commercial aircraft routings with the flexibility of helicopter operations (where routes may change on a moments’ notice due to incoming weather).
Icing and Environmental Factors
Icing, hail, fog, and heavy rains all present some of the largest environmental challenges for helicopter (and eVTOL) aircraft as they restrict visibility and prevent many helicopters that are only rated for visual flight rules from making point-to-point flights. The presence of rain or fog isn’t the showstopper for eVTOLs that it is for helicopters: the precision of most GPS guided routes that have been demonstrated by prototype eVTOLs and drones today is on the order of meters (and in some case as good as 1m).
Unfortunately, icing is a challenge that hardly any eVTOL manufacturers have publicly addressed; whether it be for complexity or a reasoned approach of slowly adding complexity – the energy requirements of heating various lifting and propulsive surfaces are destined to increase the total energy requirements of eVTOL systems and thereby place even greater demand on battery energy density requirements, a topic already at the forefront of the aerial mobility industry today. Back to navigating in inclement weather, though:
The improvements in consumer drone technology by companies such as Skydio, which have created the world’s first drone that autonomously follows the user, are the same advancements in guidance and positioning that will allow for the incredibly high precision flight path guidance of eVTOLs of the future. Just as navigational aids such as NDB’s and use of the ADF were outdated by Instrument Landing systems (which are now being replaced en masse by RNAV, GPS, and RNP approaches) the next generation of flight path guidance may have roots firmly planted in the advance algorithms that companies like DJI and Skydio have toiled for long hours to perfect. Certification of said guidance systems will rely heavily on the ability to apply operational data from ongoing (drone) flights to demonstrate performance; but that discussion is not the focus of this analysis.
The idea of landing a large, commercial aircraft in a snowstorm or during a foggy morning in an ocean-side location was once intense enough to prevent many flights. Today, that perception has been replaced with the maturity of navigational technology – to the point where most passengers hardly notice the difference (or increased level of effort) of landing an aircraft in that snowstorm in Colorado compared to a visual approach on a sunny day in Southern California.
Similarly, the flying public of 2040 will be a majority demographic of technology-savvy passengers and riders, so the idea of hopping aboard an eVTOL in San Francisco during a winter fog stint would hardly raise an eyebrow, while the same flight today would undoubtedly be matched with significant consternation.
Why it’s important: Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters were initially only suited to flying in Day VMC conditions. Through technological advances, fixed wing (and then rotorcraft) were able to fly in IMC conditions, and at night. Navigational aids have increased in precision and enabled greater access to airports in degraded environmental and atmospheric conditions. When the advances of the past 20 years are projected to the next 20, the idea of GPS-guided eVTOL flight paths with ground track accuracy of ~1m and automated flight path rerouting using similar algorithms to those in existence today is not too far-fetched. And finally, the general sentiment of those flying on the aircraft that’ll be operated in these conditions will be that of wonder of flight and confidence in the technology that they’ve grown up with.