Wingcopter, the German developer, manufacturer and operator of unmanned delivery drones for commercial and humanitarian applications, has joined forces with the Flying Labs Network as a Technology Partner. Their global initiative will improve supply chains through locally led cargo drone projects and equip local talent with the skills to operate Wingcopter’s unmanned systems in long range drone applications, including beyond visual...
Wingcopter, the German developer, manufacturer and operator of unmanned delivery drones for commercial and humanitarian applications, has joined forces with the Flying Labs Network as a Technology Partner. Their global initiative will improve supply chains through locally led cargo drone projects and equip local talent with the skills to operate Wingcopter’s unmanned systems in long range drone applications, including beyond visual line of sight. The Flying Labs Network is reputable for strengthening local expertise in the use of drones, robotics, data and AI for positive social change in more than 30 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond.
Andi Fisanich, Wingcopter’s Head of Humanitarian Programs, comments: “I truly believe that to strengthen supply chains with drones it requires an active and supportive ecosystem that knows and involves their local communities. Together, we can establish a drone service for developing countries that allows its citizens to take the lead in building out this new industry and directly benefit from it.”
Wingcopter is currently implementing a drone delivery network in Malawi to strengthen local healthcare supply chains together with UNICEF and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Within the project called Drone + Data Aid the company cooperates with the African Drone and Data Academy to train youth from across the continent in drone operations.
In other parts of the world, Wingcopter is preparing for safe and efficient on-demand delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to remote areas by drone, building on experience from earlier vaccine and medical delivery projects, which took place amongst others in Vanuatu, Ireland and Tanzania. The company recently raised $22 million in Series A funding, led by Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital and German Futury Regio Growth Fund. In 2020, Wingcopter was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, recognizing its significant social impact as part of the fourth industrial revolution.
Why it’s important: With its extremely efficient cargo drone design and proven track record of reducing turnaround time to access vital supplies from days or hours to minutes, Wingcopter offers local Flying Labs a state-of-the-art technology for the delivery of urgently needed medical goods in hard-to-reach areas – an asset that is of even greater importance during a pandemic. Wingcopter has also recently closed successful fundraising rounds which will aid in the company’s continued effort to provide humanitarian, parcel delivery, and logistics services with its reputable technologies.
Source // Wingcopter press release
Ferrovial, a global leading infrastructure operator, and Lilium, the aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft and service, have signed a framework agreement to develop a network of at least ten vertiports. The zero-carbon infrastructure and services will cover strategic locations in all major cities across Florida. This partnership seeks to provide an efficient and...
Ferrovial, a global leading infrastructure operator, and Lilium, the aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft and service, have signed a framework agreement to develop a network of at least ten vertiports. The zero-carbon infrastructure and services will cover strategic locations in all major cities across Florida. This partnership seeks to provide an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative transport network connecting locations across Florida.
Lilium’s full-scale five-seater demonstrator first flew in May 2019 and is a fully electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). The Lilium Jet has 36 all-electric ducted fans with acoustic liners, capable of capturing and dissipating noise before it leaves the engine, thus blending into typical urban environments. Lilium expects to service a sizable global market demand by connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
Vertiports are a key component in realizing the enormous potential of innovations in eVTOL aviation, providing infrastructure for landing, recharging, and taking off with passengers. According to a recent press release, Ferrovial and Lilium will collaborate in designing and constructing the vertiport facilities as well as the operation and maintenance of the vertiports for passenger service. The first location in South Florida will be announced as soon as Spring 2021.
Commenting on the partnership, Daniel Wiegand, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Lilium said: “Our partnership with Ferrovial to develop flight infrastructure, is a critical step in delivering the potential of regional air mobility to provide high speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people. As we accelerate our launch plans, Lilium is committed to partnering with industry leaders, bringing together their strengths and experience with our aircraft technology and passenger service infrastructure. We’re excited about what we will achieve together.”
Dr. Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium continues: “Our strategy to bring high-speed transportation networks to an entire region is being brought to life in Florida, and Ferrovial is the ideal partner with their unrivaled expertise in airport construction and operations around the globe. Nearly all 20 million Floridians will live within 30 minutes of our vertiports and the 140 million annual visitors to the Sunshine State will have a high-speed option available to travel to their destinations.”
Ferrovial has earned a reputation as a leading infrastructure investor and operator, dedicated to developing sustainable solutions throughout the lifecycle of a project with an integrated approach, taking advantage of its business units’ synergies. Ferrovial currently manages $10 billion in assets in the United States. Ferrovial Airports is ready to be a player in the future of vertiports and urban air mobility. Providing passengers with choice and air travel alternatives contributes to the commitment to enhanced and further personalized passenger experience.
Why it’s important: Ultimately, Ferrovial and Lilium share the same goal – establish and grow a nascent urban air mobility ecosystem to deliver an innovative mode of transport that will shorten distances and improve quality of life for citizens. The Lilium Jet’s efficient and ultra-low noise electric jet engines allow it to operate in densely populated urban areas and cover longer distances at high-speed with zero operating emissions. By saving time and enhancing connectivity, the service will drive significant economic growth for cities and increase access to industry, culture, and nature.
The latest iteration of ASX’s eVTOL tiltwing aircraft, dubbed Six Sigma, rotates its propeller orientation to optimize for its current phase of flight. The company intends to perform a demonstration flight of its full-scale concept vehicle in the third quarter of 2021. ASX co-founder and CEO Jon Rimanelli presented the company’s latest updates to a virtual audience at the Vertical Flight...
The latest iteration of ASX’s eVTOL tiltwing aircraft, dubbed Six Sigma, rotates its propeller orientation to optimize for its current phase of flight. The company intends to perform a demonstration flight of its full-scale concept vehicle in the third quarter of 2021. ASX co-founder and CEO Jon Rimanelli presented the company’s latest updates to a virtual audience at the Vertical Flight Society’s eighth annual Electric VTOL Symposium on Jan. 27.
“Over the last four years, we designed, modeled and built as many as six different subscale electric VTOL configurations, and what we have now is a design that incorporates innovations and lessons learned into a very exciting configuration which we have now frozen, that we are now calling the Sigma Six aircraft,” Rimanelli proclaimed.
Back in 2019, Rimanelli discussed the long-term plan to execute on ASX’s vision – a plan that involves applying strategies from the mature automotive industry to the production and operation of a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in order to benefit from the economies of scale accompanied with high-volume production. The company will rely on Detroit’s traditional automotive supply base, and repurpose it for aviation use. “We’ve got this great industrial base here, we’ve got skilled labor and capacity,” he says. “We can leverage this at scale and make it an accessible product that everyone can afford through ride-sharing programs.”
The Sigma Six VTOL differs greatly from MOBi-ONE V1 due to multiple design changes such as major architectural changes, repositioning the propeller locations, major improvements to its powertrain, revising its landing gear, and more. The aircraft cannot takeoff and land as a plane, the aircraft has only VTOL capability. The number of passengers the aircraft can hold is unknown as of the January 27th Sigma Six reveal.
The company is aiming to launch remotely piloted cargo operations by 2023, and pilot-optional autonomy by 2030. With the Sigma Six design, ASX is targeting a payload of 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms), a top speed of just under 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour), and a cruise speed of 126 mph (202 km/h). ASX anticipates a fully electric range of up to 90 mi (145 km) with 25 percent reserve and a hybrid range of over 200 mi (320 km).
Why it’s important: ASX has streamlined the design of the payload module for manufacturing, and also simplified the payload stabilization mechanism which will allow the commencement of flight module testing in advance of the payload module being completed. This iterative design and focus on manufacturability will be instrumental to ASX’s success and its ability to scale production of its Six Sigma eVTOL while leveraging Detroit’s automotive industrial base.
Horizon Aircraft‘s Cavorite X5 eVTOL is “built to solve real-world problems,” designed to be capable of disaster relief, cargo transport, med-evac, and air taxi services. The impressive canard-style plane with in-wing fan rotors was just unveiled to the public this week, and features a hybrid power system and safety-first design. Horizon Aircraft was founded by father-and-son team Brian and Brandon...
Horizon Aircraft‘s Cavorite X5 eVTOL is “built to solve real-world problems,” designed to be capable of disaster relief, cargo transport, med-evac, and air taxi services. The impressive canard-style plane with in-wing fan rotors was just unveiled to the public this week, and features a hybrid power system and safety-first design.
Horizon Aircraft was founded by father-and-son team Brian and Brandon Robinson, primarily as an engine conversion company specializing in the task of putting GM LS-series V8 motors into kit planes. The company transitioned to modern aircraft prototypes with its pursuit to create a modern high-lift, hybrid-electric cargo version of the amphibious Republic RC-3 SeaBee sport plane. However, the Robinson team quickly realized that adding a vertical lift system would make for a long-range, high-speed air taxi design that could offer a ton of operational flexibility. Ultimately, this led to the conception of the Cavorite X5 eVTOL, a vehicle designed for short runway or urban landing operations.
The primary objective of the X5 is to deliver unprecedented efficiency and versatility; its patent-pending fan-in-wing design is ultimately expected to support a 350 km/h cruise speed, 500 km range, and 5 passenger capacity. At its lightest payload, Horizon predicts the vehicle will be capable of a maximum range of 625 miles (1,000 km). Low-volume production is slated for 2024, at which point Horizon hopes to sell the X5 first as a kit plane in the amateur-built experimental category. For the time being, Horizon will slowly scale up prototype versions as it iterates and improves upon its design. Below, see a full list of the concept aircraft’s published technical specifications:
Why it’s important: Given its fairly nascent foray in to the aerial mobility industry, Horizon Aircraft must make rapid progress if it’s to catch up and compete for market share with Joby Aviation and other industry trailblazers. When asked about the regulatory process in an interview with New Atlas, Brandon Robinson admitted: “we’ve been in stealth mode until we got our patents locked away and our ideas coalesced a bit. But you’re right, that’s a conversation we want to start sooner rather than later.” However, Horizon does have the fuselage and wings of its 17-percent model all built and assembled, and expects to fly the prototype in the next two months.
Sources // Horizon Aircraft; New Atlas
The CEZERİ Flying Car, developed by Baykar as the ‘transportation concept of the future’, is designed to reduce traffic congestion in urban transportation, minimize the time spent in traffic, and reduce air pollution caused by transportation. Further, the CEZERI’s characteristic design is optimized to reduce traffic accidents, provide a faster cargo transportation service, and respond quickly to the urgent needs...
The CEZERİ Flying Car, developed by Baykar as the ‘transportation concept of the future’, is designed to reduce traffic congestion in urban transportation, minimize the time spent in traffic, and reduce air pollution caused by transportation. Further, the CEZERI’s characteristic design is optimized to reduce traffic accidents, provide a faster cargo transportation service, and respond quickly to the urgent needs of health institutions (blood, organ transport, etc.).
Unveiled at Teknofest in 2019, the original CEZERI prototype is one seater quadcopter with a target flight ceiling of 2000 meters and a maximum speed of 100 kph. The craft’s name is inspired by Ismail al-Jazari, a renowned Muslim engineer who lived between 1136 and 1206. The company already produces drones for both armed and non-armed forces as well as control systems, simulators, and avionics systems.
Since 2019’s Teknofest, Baykar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems has executed various flight test sorties with its prototype. Just following CEZERI’s first successful hover test in September of 2020, Baykar Chief Technology Officer Selcuk Bayraktar claimed that “we will make more advanced prototypes in the upcoming process, and perform flights with a human [on board].”
The latest iteration of the CEZERI is designed to be flown with minimum technical and aviation knowledge and high-level security. As safety has also been highly prioritized in its design, the flight deck is equipped with a joystick, altitude control lever, touch command screen, two physical buttons (Emergency In, Stop) and two switches (Engine Battery Switch, Avionic System Switch). The aircraft is powered by rechargeable batteries with 8 electric motors and propellers and flies under 100% electric power, all while featuring a three-times redundant intelligent flight system. As battery technology improves, Baykar strives to achieve a maximum range of 70 km.
Why it’s important: According to Baykar, within the scope of urban air transportation, the prototype is aimed to give life to the reliable passenger and cargo transportation ecosystem that covers city centers and suburbs. In addition, studies are underway to be used for logistic support in the health sector and military fields. Progress continues to be made on the development of the CEZERI air taxi, yet it appears that regulatory and certification discussions have not been initiated. If Baykar proceeds with manufacturing a certifiable vehicle in Turkey, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation will likely be tasked with establishing new guidelines for safe operational protocols as are currently under development by larger regulators including the FAA and EASA.
Archer and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to enable Archer to benefit from access to FCA’s low-cost supply chain, advanced composite material capabilities, and engineering and design experience. California-based Archer is creating the world’s first all-electric airline that moves people throughout the world’s cities in a quick, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective manner....
Archer and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to enable Archer to benefit from access to FCA’s low-cost supply chain, advanced composite material capabilities, and engineering and design experience.
California-based Archer is creating the world’s first all-electric airline that moves people throughout the world’s cities in a quick, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective manner. The new partnership will help accelerate Archer’s timeline in becoming an industry leader with the resources and capabilities to capitalize on the new era of sustainable air mobility, a market that Morgan Stanley estimates will be $1.5 trillion by 2040. Last May, Archer emerged from ‘stealth mode’ and announced its plan to deliver a sustainable and efficient vehicle with the financial support of investors including Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore.
Archer will manufacture high-volume, composite, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, with the intent of starting production in 2023. FCA, the parent company of established automobile brands including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, has already collaborated on cockpit design elements of Archer’s first aircraft which is expected to be unveiled in early 2021. The 100% electric aircraft will be capable of traveling distances of up to 60 miles at 150 mph. Through this announced collaboration, the companies will work together to significantly decrease the cost of production, enabling Archer to bring affordably priced services to customers via its ultra-quiet, high-performance eVTOL aircraft.
“We’ve been hyper-focused on a customer-first approach to vehicle design and aircraft operations,” said Brett Adcock, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Archer. “Now we are working with a seasoned, industry-leading automotive partner to leverage cost benefits and experience that will allow Archer to produce thousands of aircraft reliably and affordably every single year.”
“Electrification within the transportation sector, whether on roads or in the air is the future and with any new and rapidly developing technology, scale is important,” said Doug Ostermann, Vice President and Head of Global Business Development of FCA. “Our partnership with Archer has mutual benefits and will enable innovative, environmentally friendly transportation solutions to be brought to market at an accelerated pace.”
“We are excited to team up with one of the world’s largest automotive companies on our mission of advancing the benefits of sustainable air mobility” said Adam Goldstein, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Archer. “This is a first-of-its-kind deal for one of Detroit’s Big Three auto makers in moving into the Urban Air Mobility space. There is now a clear path for Archer to bring mass production to this industry, changing the way people travel in and around cities forever.”
Why it’s important: Archer’s partnership with one of the world’s largest car manufacturers is expected to assist the startup in lowering its purchasing costs and accelerating the launch of its eVTOL air taxi. FCA’s expertise and established supply chain will also enable the two companies to minimize the cost of manufacturing, making high-volume manufacturing achievable and sustainable.
The following information was initially published by Aviation International News and can be found on AINOnline. According to a European Union Aviation Safety Agency spokesman, EASA has reorganized its certification directorate, merging the departments handling general aviation fixed-wing and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, including drones. The news was reported in a recent publication by Aviation International News (AIN), and...
The following information was initially published by Aviation International News and can be found on AINOnline.
According to a European Union Aviation Safety Agency spokesman, EASA has reorganized its certification directorate, merging the departments handling general aviation fixed-wing and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, including drones. The news was reported in a recent publication by Aviation International News (AIN), and follows announcements made earlier in 2020 regarding the Agency’s progress toward a full set of certification standards that Europe will need to adopt for the commercial operation of air taxis.
The new department opened on January 1 and is being led by David Solar, who reports to EASA certification director Rachel Daeschler. Solar previously was in charge of the VTOL department, which includes helicopters.
“This will deal with all general aviation products [including business jets] and all VTOL, as well as the certification of eVTOL [aircraft] and of drones,” explained a spokesman to AIN. However, the directorate does not cover the regulation of operations and flight crew licensing for these categories of aircraft.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it now expects to publish the final version of its means of compliance for its new Special Condition VTOL type certification rules in early 2021. In 2019, EASA announced its initial plans to publish certification standards for electric and hybrid VTOL aircraft, aimed at those designed for urban environments such as Lilium, Volocopter, and Vertical Aerospace‘s eVTOLs. According to Aviation International News, EASA had deferred planned publication in December because it needed more time to take account of the large volume of industry comments it received to draft proposals published on May 25, 2020.
On the subject, AIN also wrote that the final version of the means of compliance for a special condition for certifying hybrid and electric propulsion systems will be published in the early part of this year.
Why it’s important: EASA’s effort to normalize the certification process and regulations with regard to VTOL aircraft demonstrates an initiative that will expedite the integration of VTOL technologies into global transportation systems. The merging of departments also conveys promising news for manufacturers and future operators of VTOL aircraft fleets, which will likely lead to continued motivation for pursuing research and development in the growing industry. Additionally, this positive feedback has potential to positively influence investors’ willingness to fund current and prospective projects as the regulatory infrastructure develops.
Source // AINOnline
The Manta aircraft, developed in Switzerland, works on a flexible hybrid-electric canard aircraft design capable of both vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and ultra-efficient short take-off and landing (STOL) operations. A one-third scale model has been built, and the team is preparing for its first flight tests. Manta’s hybrid eVTOL takes off and lands vertically when needed, but also can...
The Manta aircraft, developed in Switzerland, works on a flexible hybrid-electric canard aircraft design capable of both vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and ultra-efficient short take-off and landing (STOL) operations. A one-third scale model has been built, and the team is preparing for its first flight tests.
Manta’s hybrid eVTOL takes off and lands vertically when needed, but also can operate from airstrips as short as three vertical landing pads lined up for a considerably higher payload capacity. In practice, this means it can fulfill the same mission requirements as either a small helicopter, or a slightly larger airplane. This cross-functionality makes it an extremely versatile and well-rounded aircraft.
The ANN1 and ANN2 aircraft are single- and tandem double-seat versions of the same airframe: a carbon composite-bodied plane shape with a small V tail, a large reverse wing at the rear, and a smaller canard wing at the front. Forward propulsion is provided by four ducted electric fans hanging under the front edge of the rear wing, and for VTOL operations, these can tilt to face upwards.
Why it’s important: Manta has evaluated the efficiency of VTOL flight dynamics and made a practical design choice for adding conventional takeoff and landing capabilities to its prototype. Operating as an eSTOL allows for heavier payloads, and uses significantly less energy, which could also assist in maximizing range for longer journeys. Although the Manta may not be best suited for commercial air taxi use due to its limited passenger capacity, its versatility gives it great potential for a wide array of short-landing and VTOL mission types.
Source // New Atlas
Jaunt Air Mobility signs a memorandum of understanding with VerdeGo Aero of Daytona Beach, FL, to explore the development of a hybrid-electric aircraft. The combined technologies of Jaunt Air Mobility and VerdeGo’s hybrid powertrain offer customers the opportunity to fulfill a variety of market segments and missions. Jaunt and VerdeGo plan to develop a hybrid-electric version of the Jaunt aircraft...
Jaunt Air Mobility signs a memorandum of understanding with VerdeGo Aero of Daytona Beach, FL, to explore the development of a hybrid-electric aircraft. The combined technologies of Jaunt Air Mobility and VerdeGo’s hybrid powertrain offer customers the opportunity to fulfill a variety of market segments and missions. Jaunt and VerdeGo plan to develop a hybrid-electric version of the Jaunt aircraft utilizing VerdeGo’s hybrid-electric diesel (Jet-A) generator system combined with same battery systems being used for the Jaunt Journey. The added energy from the hybrid system will enable significant enhancements to mission capability for passenger, cargo, and military variants.
Jaunt’s patented technology offers a proven aerodynamic design of a fixed-wing aircraft with efficient vertical take-off and landing capabilities. VerdeGo’s hybrid power system allows for longer missions, faster turnaround operations, and current infrastructure utilization. VerdeGo’s hybrid power systems run on globally-available Jet-A fuel, which will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 40% when compared to competing turbine products, while providing 4X+ more energy than battery-electric powertrains.
“While confident in the battery-electric Jaunt Journey, for the urban air mobility market, our customers also have different operational mission requirements,” says Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility. “VerdeGo’s system offers a unique bridge to meeting those demands.”
According to NASA, Hybrid-electric architectures have shown the potential for significant improvements when applied to fixed-wing aircraft; such improvements include energy consumption, noise, weight, propulsive efficiency, and aero-propulsive interactions, among others. The U.S. Air Force’s chief acquisition officer, Will Roper has stated that with the military’s goals of flying two to four military personnel 100 miles at speeds above 115 mph, it is likely that these aircraft will be hybrid-electric.
Why it’s important: As VerdeGo Aero’s CEO Eric Bartsch said, “the additional range enabled with VerdeGo’s hybrid system applied in the Jaunt aircraft will enable either longer missions or multiple short back-to-back missions without the requirement for energy infrastructure at every landing site. Rapid turnaround, high utilization, and enhanced mission capability make the hybrid aircraft extremely competitive.”
Source // VerdeGo Aero press release
Vertical Aerospace has announced the appointment of Richard Alexander as its Head of Flight Physics to help Vertical move towards their vision of electric fight for everyone. Alexander was formerly Chief Flight Dynamics Integrator on the Mitsubishi M100 Regional Jet and Head of Flight Sciences at Bombardier Aerospace; now he will assume a key role in ensuring that the Flight Physics aspects, including noise,...
Vertical Aerospace has announced the appointment of Richard Alexander as its Head of Flight Physics to help Vertical move towards their vision of electric fight for everyone. Alexander was formerly Chief Flight Dynamics Integrator on the Mitsubishi M100 Regional Jet and Head of Flight Sciences at Bombardier Aerospace; now he will assume a key role in ensuring that the Flight Physics aspects, including noise, performance, and handling, are safe and optimized for certification and operation of the first Vertical Aerospace aircraft to fly the public.
Vertical Aerospace has substantial influence in the sphere of sustainable aviation technologies, as one of only a handful of companies to have flown and flight tested two full-scale all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototypes with UK Civil Aviation Authority approval. The second, Seraph, can carry 250kg and reach speeds of 80km/h. Most recently Vertical unveiled its piloted winged eVTOL, VA-1X. Capable of traveling 100 miles at 150 mph, carrying four passengers and one pilot, VA-1X is set to be the world’s first certified winged eVTOL with initial commercial operations starting in 2024.
With over three decades of experience in the aerospace domain, Richard has a proven record of accomplishment both as a Flight Physics Engineer and as a leader of teams, completing the conceptual design, development, testing, certification, and entry into service of many aircraft designs, from the simplest derivative to complete clean-sheet programs. This includes the BAe 146-RJ, Bombardier CRJ700 and 900, Bombardier CSeries (now Airbus A220) and all the most recent versions of the Bombardier Global family.
Newly appointed Head of Flight Physics Richard Alexander said: “Joining Vertical Aerospace at such an exciting time in the development of the eVTOL market segment will be a great challenge for me and I am looking forward to meeting the team and starting to contribute. My background is based on fixed–wing aircraft and so I have quite a bit of catching up to do on the world of rotorcraft: I will have to add some “up” skills to my “forward (with a bit of up)” toolbox. However, as the VA-1X will transition from vertical to forward flight during operations, I am sure I will have a good deal of useful aircraft development experience to add to Vertical’s overall capability. I am also motivated by the zero-carbon emissions aspect: our vehicles will replace polluting, dinosaur-burning modes of ground and flight transport. My recent electric aircraft activities at CAE have already ignited an engineering passion to move the planet forward and develop the greenest, most commercially successful product in its class.”
Why it’s important: Vertical Aerospace is continuing to work alongside aviation authorities around the world and plans to have a certified eVTOL by 2024. They also continue to build strategic partnerships with global leaders such as Honeywell, who are developing the flight control systems for their latest aircraft. The company is striving to disrupt the trillion-dollar commercial aviation market, and will leverage the knowledge and expertise of Richard Alexander to do so in the most safe and efficient manner.
Source // Vertical Aerospace press release
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.” Custom graphic from the launch event of...
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.”
In June of this year, Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation became the first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL initiative of the United States Air Force, and is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential acquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Why it’s important: Over the years, Springfield has become increasingly important to Air Force research. Its airspace has also been approved for testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities for unmanned aircraft or drones above the airport. As highlighted by AFRL Commander Pringle, the establishment of an air taxi simulator facility “paves the way for AFRL and the Ohio community to advance the science and better understand an innovative capability with both military and commercial benefits.”
Source // Dayton Daily News
Samad Aerospace, the UK-based green-tech startup, has surpassed another key milestone of its Starling Program with the successful conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) flight test of the company’s 50% scale fully electric aircraft. The company’s team of engineers is pioneering the development of the world’s fastest hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, with the goal of revolutionizing civil air transportation globally....
Samad Aerospace, the UK-based green-tech startup, has surpassed another key milestone of its Starling Program with the successful conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) flight test of the company’s 50% scale fully electric aircraft.
The company’s team of engineers is pioneering the development of the world’s fastest hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, with the goal of revolutionizing civil air transportation globally. Samad has been steadily developing its unique manned and unmanned aircraft with two scaled prototypes (10% and 20%) successfully built, flown, and showcased in reputable international air shows such as Singapore, Geneva and Farnborough. Preparations for the e-VTOL flight tests are already well underway, and 2021 will see the completion of the 50% e-VTOL version of the e-Starling.
During the CTOL flight test, the aircraft took off at a length of 250 meters, demonstrating a great potential for Short take-off and landing (STOL). Take-off and landing were smooth, and the vehicle maintained a comfortable cruise at a speed of (90 mph) airborne for over five minutes. Witnesses were amazed at just how quiet this aircraft was compared to a helicopter.
The flight tests included evaluations on aircraft flight dynamics, performance as well as handling qualities. As the e-Starling adopts a semi blended wing body (BWB) design, it requires a low angle for take-off; it is important to understand when the aircraft is capable of taking-off and at which speed.
Apart from slow and fast taxiing on the runway as well as take-off and landing, the half scale demonstrator also performed banking maneuvers in addition to tests on yaw, pitch and roll. The results show very stable in terms of handling quality, according to Samad’s press release. Brakes, telemetry, redundancy links, and center of gravity (CG) verification were among the other subsystem tests the team conducted.
The ability to take off and land conventionally is an important part of the safety justification for VTOL aircraft, due to its role as a key safety contingency. Proving and fine-tuning the fundamental capabilities of the aircraft such as CTOL demonstrates Samad’s calculated approach to the validation of its prototypes. As Samad’s Aircraft Design Adviser, Professor John Fielding explains, “Safety is key. We have investigated various safety challenges via CFD analysis and now through the flight tests using this 50% scaled CTOL prototype.”
Why it’s important: Samad’s Starling project has potential to result in commercializing the world’s first e-VTOL hybrid aircraft. The company’s CEO, Dr Seyed Mohammad Mohseni, praised his team’s resilience attributing this latest success to their, “striking and unparalleled dedication during unprecedented times.” Samad’s Chief Production Officer explains, “We believe passionately in our proven technology, Covid-19 threw a few challenges our way, but this passion fuels our determination, securing this success.” As explained by Samad’s Chief Technical Officer, Norman Wijker, “CTOL trials are an essential step towards VTOL aircraft development. Ticking off the CTOL flight capability is a crucial step towards the validation of all flight modes. With CTOL trials complete, we will begin hovering trials and the flight trials will be concluded by transition between hovering flight and aerodynamic flight in both directions.”
Source // Samad Aerospace press release
Ampaire is a Los Angeles-based company whose mission is to be the world’s most trusted developer of practical and compelling electric aircraft. To start, the company is retrofitting existing passenger aircraft to electric power – the quickest and most capital efficient approach to making commercial electric air travel a reality. Ampaire flew the largest hybrid electric aircraft at the time...
Ampaire is a Los Angeles-based company whose mission is to be the world’s most trusted developer of practical and compelling electric aircraft. To start, the company is retrofitting existing passenger aircraft to electric power – the quickest and most capital efficient approach to making commercial electric air travel a reality. Ampaire flew the largest hybrid electric aircraft at the time in May 2019, and they have recently accomplished the longest flight to date for any commercially relevant aircraft employing electric propulsion, in this case a hybrid-electric propulsion system.
Ampaire’s Electric EEL, a six-seat Cessna 337 twin-engine aircraft modified with an electric motor in the nose and traditional combustion engine in the rear, took off from Camarillo Airport just north of Los Angeles at 12:20 PM. Test pilot Justin Gillen and Flight Test Engineer Russell Newman, flew up California’s Central Valley at 8,500 feet, landing at Hayward Executive Airport at 02:52 PM. Straight line distance was 292 statute miles, and the route as flown 341 statute miles.
Speed during the cruise portion of the 2 hour, 32-minute flight averaged around 135 mph. “The mission was a quite normal cross-country flight that we could imagine electrified aircraft making every day just a few years from now,” Gillen said.
This milestone in electric aviation took place after four weeks of flight testing in the Camarillo area for this second Electric EEL test aircraft, which first flew on September 10th. In that period, the aircraft flew over 30 hours during 23 flights, in 28 days, with 100% dispatch reliability. “Our success in taking this aircraft in a short period from the test environment to the normal, everyday operating environment is a testament to our development and test organization, and to the systems maturity we have achieved with our second aircraft,” said Ampaire General Manager Doug Shane. A former president of Scaled Composites, Shane is one of the world’s foremost experts on the development and flight testing of new aviation concepts.
The EEL flown to Hayward is dubbed the Hawaiʻi Bird, as it will take part later this year in a series of demonstration flights with Hawaiʻi-based Mokulele Airlines on its short-haul routes. The flight trials with Mokulele will not only demonstrate the capabilities of the EEL but will help to define the infrastructure required for wide adoption of electric aviation by airlines and airports. These flight demonstrations will mark the first time an electrically-powered aircraft has flown under an FAA “Market Survey” experimental aircraft certificate in order to gain real-world flight experience.
In Hayward, the aircraft will be partially disassembled for shipment to Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiʻi flight trials are funded in part by Elemental Excelerator, a global climate-tech accelerator based in Honolulu.
The Electric EEL can generate fuel and emissions savings up to 50 percent on shorter regional routes where the aircraft’s electrical propulsion unit can be run at high power settings, and generate savings of about 30 percent on longer regional routes such as the Camarillo to Hayward flight.
“The Electric EEL is our first step in pioneering new electric aircraft designs,” said Ampaire CEO Noertker. “Our next step will likely be a 19-seat hybrid electric retrofit program that will lower emissions and operating costs, benefiting regional carriers, their passengers and their communities.” Ampaire, with funding from NASA and others, is in the midst of design studies for such an aircraft based on the popular de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. Ampaire has named the hybrid-electric 19-seater aircraft the Eco Otter SX.
Why it’s important: Ampaire’s strategic approach to retrofitting existing aircraft has allowed the company to rapidly progress in the development of its propulsion technology and demonstrate the potential for making commercial electric air travel a reality. The Los Angeles-based startup has achieved so in the most capital-efficient manner, and is well-positioned to continue its progress given its current partnerships and funding. As said by Ampaire General Manager Doug Shane, “the ability to put innovative electric technologies into the air rapidly in order to assess and refine them is central to Ampaire’s strategy to introduce low-emissions aircraft for regional airlines and charter operators within just a few years.”
Source // Ampaire press release
Dean Donovan on Deurbanization Rising: Covid-19, Remote Work And Electric Aviation Will Reshape Living Patterns
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Author Dean Donovan is the Co-Founder of Volaris, Mexico’s largest domestic carrier, current Chairman of Stellar Labs, a software company focused on global distribution technologies for private aviation, and Founder of DiamondStream Partners where he invests in aviation and travel businesses. Between 2006 and 2019, remote work expanded...
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Author Dean Donovan is the Co-Founder of Volaris, Mexico’s largest domestic carrier, current Chairman of Stellar Labs, a software company focused on global distribution technologies for private aviation, and Founder of DiamondStream Partners where he invests in aviation and travel businesses.
Between 2006 and 2019, remote work expanded 170% to the point where about 8% of people with jobs worked remotely. By August 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic helped drive that figure to 20%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Global Workforce Analytics believes percentage of telecommuters will hit 25% to 30% by the end of 2021.
According to some surveys, 99% of employees who work remotely want to continue doing so at least to some extent. It is not surprising given the large cost savings for individuals and the perceived improvement in flexibility of working hours. Businesses themselves have a huge opportunity to save on real estate costs and 94% of employers believe the productivity of their workers has been stable or has increased working from home.
San Francisco and other dense urban centers have seen rents decline rapidly under this pressure while rents and housing prices in the suburbs have risen. The pandemic and the ease of videoconferencing applications like Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft MSFT -1.6% Teams helped to accelerate this trend, but electric aviation will lead to profound changes in the urban landscape in ways that few expect.
The Limits of Commuting by Automobile
The push and pull workers experience between urban core and the suburbs is nothing new. Bloomberg CityLab, argues that commuting technology has defined the shape of cities since the days of ancient Rome. Bloomberg argues that a subway- or streetcar-based city could support commutes from about 50 square miles of land whereas an automobile-based city could support commuters from over 1,250 square miles of land. As American cities became automobile-centric the supply of land increased up to 25 fold and made housing less expensive. In this sense, American suburbs exist because fast, low-cost transportation in the form of trains and then cars, developed that enable people to live at a distance, while still being connected to urban centers.
In some respects, nothing has changed. All other things being equal, housing prices (and land prices) tend to fall as distance from the urban core increases. America remains a relatively sparsely populated country with enormous amounts of cheap land. For the last 70 years, cars offered the most competitive form of transportation for commuters who want cheaper space and new electric vehicles like the Tesla Model3 will only make them more competitive. In 2016, 85.4% of people commuted to work via car and another 5% via public transportation. Walking, biking and working at home made up most of the rest. And why not? Despite the sustainability challenges ICE cars create and traffic on the daily commute, autos take relatively direct routes, are cheap at about $0.37/seat mile (at average occupancy of 1.67 passengers per vehicle), have high reliability and offer workers tremendous flexibility.
In other respects, everything has changed. By the time the pandemic started, auto-based transportation had begun to hit its limits with continually increasing congestion and lengthening commute times. Cars couldn’t drive fast enough and generated too much congestion to provide access to new undeveloped land in many urban areas. In response, urban planners saw increased density and public transportation as the solution.
The remote working world will tip the incentives back from proximity toward space. On the one hand, remote work creates more demand for space as people get tired of running meetings from their laundry room and businesses demand more professionalism from home. On the other hand, remote workers will receive less value from proximity to the office. If the commuter only needs to visit the office once or twice a week, his daily commute time and cost could double and he will still end up spending less time and money than if he had a daily commute. The only thing that is missing — a transportation mode that can move people faster than 60 miles per hour.
Hybrid-Electric Aircraft, The Car’s New Commuting Competitor
Few people have a daily commute to their office by air today. Big airports are too far from most homes and workplaces. It takes too much time in the airport and too much time in traffic to and from the airport to make them practical for commuters. For example, there are only five major commercial airports in the greater Los Angeles area while forty-three smaller airports are largely unused by commercial airlines. It can take an hour to drive from the center of Santa Monica to LAX in traffic, but less than 10 minutes to drive to Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
In addition, smaller aircraft that can fly into tertiary airports today cost too much to compete with cars for commuter traffic. Total costs for a Cessna Caravan could exceed 75 cents per seat mile to operate on a mid-range route. So, a thirty-mile flight could cost the carrier $22.50 (or more for such a short flight) for which they might charge $33 one-way to the passenger. This doesn’t include the cost of getting to the airport and then from the airport to work. Pretty expensive for a trip a car could make for about $11.
Finally, smaller aircraft often struggle to offer the kind of reliable service we take for granted from commercial aircraft like the Boeing 737.
All of these things are about to change with the introduction of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for light aircraft from companies like Verdego, Ampaire and VoltAero. Although estimates vary and a material difference in savings will exist between new aircraft designs and retrofits, hybrid-electric aircraft could take direct operating costs down by half and total operating cost down by a third. This could push the cost per average seat-mile (CASM) in a hybrid-electric aircraft into the $0.30 per seat mile range, below the cost to operate a car for the same distance.
While the thirty-mile commute will probably stay in the domain of cars as the physics of putting an aircraft in flight takes a lot of energy, hybrid-electric aircraft are compelling options for 50- to 150-mile commutes. These smaller aircraft offer the potential for more direct routings than commercial aircraft because they can fly into tertiary airports like Palo Alto in the Bay Area or Santa Monica in Los Angeles. Occasional commuters who only visit the office 1-2 times a week could find this particularly compelling.
Let’s compare the commute costs for Tracy, a potential air commuter location in California’s central valley, and Hayward, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco, to Palo Alto, California. The distance from Tracy to Palo Alto is roughly sixty miles. A one-way hybrid-electric plane trip could cost the airline $18 and the airline might charge $25. If you were commuting to the office twice a week, this would cost about $100/week. Add in another $40/week for the drive to the airport, parking and a car-share to work and the commuting bill is about $140/week. The distance from Hayward to Palo Alto is twenty-two miles. A daily car trip would cost the commuter about $81 a week in auto-related costs. Add in $10 parking a day and you have a commuting bill of about $131 a week. Fairly similar costs.
Commuters can get in and out of these airports quickly and they rarely suffer the kind of congestion that often delays flights in large commercial airports. With a ten-minute drive on each end, 20 minutes in the airport at smaller terminals, and a 30-minute total flight time the multi-modal commute from Tracy to Palo Alto is an hour each way without the variability of traffic. You would spend 4 hours and forty minutes commuting if you went to the office twice a week. Car traffic has high variability in times, but assuming the median time for the 22 miles morning commute from Hayward to Palo Alto, a commuter would spend an hour and twenty minutes in the car each day or six hours a week. Advantage aircraft.
New flight control systems from companies like Skyryse and others, will increase the reliability and safety of part 135 fixed wing aviation and should increasingly reflect the impressive safety record of commercial aviation. So, for the air commuter, the chances of delay and unpredictability should decline and safety should improve — a significant advantage of flying vs. driving.
The capping argument is of course the cost of space. It is always hard to compare housing costs in two different localities as distance from the urban core is not the only driver of housing pricing. Leaving aside the systemic studies of these issues (including the one listed above), a quick look at Zillow shows the average home value in Hayward is 27% more than in Tracy and the average home value in Palo Alto is 427% more than in Tracy.
The Network and the Implications
The continued growth of remote work and the availability of faster, lower-cost long-distance transit opens up the possibilities for longer-distance commutes with limited amounts of weekly travel time and cheaper housing. The remote workers, desperate to escape videoconferences in their laundry rooms, will want the space. Work could change materially with workplaces looking more like meeting hubs for people that gather from a larger region than a traditional office. These sorts of changes could make work relationships and social relationships more regional further driving aviation demand. As the flywheel starts to spin, people will start to spread out. Developers will build new style offices meant to permit in-person meetings close to tertiary airports making longer distance commutes easier.
College-educated workers, who work from home at almost double the national rate, will lead the way. You can already see evidence of this trend at the top end of the income scale even prior to the introduction of cheaper forms of air travel. As high income commuters move further from the urban core, they will pull service jobs with them. The movement will reduce congestion in urban areas, further reducing proximity benefits and creating property utilization issues in the urban core (much like the car did in the 1970s). These trends will put pressure on urban property values and rents and support suburban property values and rents. This trend is already evident during these first months of the pandemic when rents in thirty core cities have declined by 5% while suburban rents have increased by 0.5%.
These new ‘suburbs’ will look quite different from old. Fixed-wing commuter service will create a new kind of regional carrier – a super-sized Cape Air, if you will, with the scale to drive increased operating efficiency. These airlines will build operations around tertiary airports 50-150 miles from the major urban centers with high frequencies and upgraded terminal facilities. In a kind of reverse hubbing scenario, they will build scale in each regional tertiary airport by running routes to multiple airports in the urban center. They will fly smaller aircraft with high operational tempo and asset utilization and focus on low-cost operations because they will focus on serving people spending their own money to get to work.
How many people might this system move? It doesn’t seem unreasonable that 2-3% of the population could commute in this way medium term with a higher percentage over the longer term. 124mm people live in the largest metropolitan areas in the US, so this would imply 2.5MM to 3.7MM long distance air commuters. The Bay Area has 4.7MM residents. If two percent of the population commuted this way, it would represent 10% of all (current) remote workers and 94,600 air commuters total. At two round trips weekly per remote worker, the Bay Area would need close to 350 19 seat aircraft to support the commute. Airports operational tempo would likely represent the biggest bottleneck and perhaps noise could create issues for a reliable commuter service. A large number of fixed wing operations in a controlled airspace would probably also require advances in air traffic control, safety and aircraft reliability that support a commuting environment.
Nationally, if two to three percent of the workers in the top 20 metro areas commuted via air, it would create a $12-18B market for commuter air services. Once deployed at scale, this type of commuting model will lead to regional clustering of smaller cities connected by air to the urban centers and greater regional integration rather than the more contiguous development based on highway systems that we see today.
Yet, these trends will also leave many social questions uncertain and unanswered. Will these changes be jarring and disruptive? Or will these changes integrate smoothly to ease the significant social issues of congestion and housing affordability? Will this type of mobility transformation lead to greater integration of small-town and rural America into the urban core and vice versa? Or, will we see islands of prosperous gentrification in a sea of struggling rural and small-town communities? Will this transformation hollow out the urban core? Or, will it make the core stronger by broadening its catchment area? Will it increase geographical separation of college-educated knowledge workers and the rest of society or create greater social integration as elements of those groups move into historically less prosperous areas? Will it break up the power of technology hubs like Silicon Valley and financial hubs like New York or simply extend their reach? As the technology develops, we will have the opportunity to shape the answers to build a better society.
As electric aviation rises, our society will build on a long history of urban development to break the historical suburban paradigm and create a new kind of clustered regional development that reduces housing costs while increasing regional social cohesion.
The VerdeGo Aero team has successfully performed the first test runs of their “Iron Bird” prototype diesel-hybrid (Jet A fuel) generator system in early August. Full-power testing is now underway to accelerate development of VTOL and CTOL electric aircraft utilizing VerdeGo’s high-performance hybrid-electric powertrain to perform demanding commercial missions. VerdeGo Aero has now successfully performed its initial series of tests...
The VerdeGo Aero team has successfully performed the first test runs of their “Iron Bird” prototype diesel-hybrid (Jet A fuel) generator system in early August. Full-power testing is now underway to accelerate development of VTOL and CTOL electric aircraft utilizing VerdeGo’s high-performance hybrid-electric powertrain to perform demanding commercial missions.
VerdeGo Aero has now successfully performed its initial series of tests to validate the Iron Bird system at power output levels above 150KW. This ground-based development hardware, built around the certified Continental CD-265 high efficiency diesel aviation engine, is being used for testing to refine the weight, power output, cooling systems, and reliability of the conformal hybrid systems now being engineered for aerospace customers. The VerdeGo hybrid generator can be combined with battery packs to enable peak power output up to 0.5MW and modular twin generator systems can be stacked for 360KW continuous and 1MW peak output.
VerdeGo’s hybrid power systems are applicable to numerous next-generation electric aircraft markets including: vertical takeoff and landing urban air mobility vehicles (eVTOL), short takeoff and landing (eSTOL), and conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) aircraft. Both passenger and cargo aircraft in manned and unmanned configurations are supported by VerdeGo’s hybrid powertrain. Their diesel-hybrid system runs on globally-available Jet-A fuel consuming around 40% less fuel than competing turbine-hybrid offerings, while providing between four and eight times the endurance of competing battery-only powertrains. Compatibility with Jet A also means the VerdeGo hybrid is compatible with the bio-Jet substitute fuels under development.
“Getting the Iron Bird running not only validates the operating economics of our diesel-hybrid power generation system, it also enables us to perform hardware-in-the-loop simulations using mission profiles from our airframe customers”, says David Eichstedt, Director of Advanced Concepts. “It’s a powerful way for customers to validate the economics of their aircraft designs value proposition using real powertrain hardware without leaving the ground.” For interested parties willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, VerdeGo is able to provide the equivalent of a traditional engine deck. This proprietary software utilizes data from the full-scale hardware testing and includes a hybrid simulation model for airframers to use that includes both the hybrid generator and the battery solution that goes with it.
Chief Executive Officer Eric Bartsch says, “VerdeGo Aero is positioned to offer the most efficient, most cost effective, low emissions hybrid system for demanding commercial aviation missions. Our Iron Bird is demonstrating the hardware platform that will power aircraft requiring up to 1MW of peak power using our highly efficient generator systems and world-class battery pack technologies.”
Why it’s important: VerdeGo’s hybrid systems provide significantly more mission capabilities than battery-packs while substantially reducing fuel consumption, emissions, operating cost, and noise when compared to turbine hybrids. The operational testing of VerdeGo’s Iron Bird is a significant step towards enabling its customers to create more competitive electric aircraft, and could provide new manufacturers with the necessary technology to commercialize aerial mobility services.
Source // VerdeGo Aero press release