Rani Plaut, Co-founder and CEO of Israeli eVTOL developer AIR, discussed the company’s future in a recent interview with Avionics International. AIR debuted its AIR ONE personal aircraft in October 2021, and has already received over 50 orders.

AIR currently has two prototype models of the AIR ONE; a full-scale, semi-functional prototype for ground demonstration, and another large-scale prototype that is technologically fully functional. The latter is expected to launch in early Q1 of 2022. According to Plaut, “We have a division of functionality so we can really sharpen the product on both the aesthetics and on the technological side.”

Photograph: AIR

AIR ONE was designed with accessibility in mind. The vehicle is intended for personal use, aimed at “making flight accessible to regular people,” said Plaut. “A pilot’s license will be required, but we are aiming for a very low level of training.” The key features of AIR’s eVTOL are practicality, affordability, safety, and ease of handling. The range is over 100 miles, and units are priced at $150,000 each. Plaut explains that the aircraft’s “extreme simplicity and high redundancy creates a very high level of safety and very easy handling. If I train you, within an hour you will be able to operate it. You are truly enveloped in our software and are very safe.”

AIR intends to bring AIR ONE onto the mass market, with an annual target volume in the thousands. To grow public acceptance and ensure smooth assimilation of the aircraft into low altitude airspace, the team is focusing on safety and noise reduction. “At the end of the day,” said Plaut, “the product needs to coexist with people. It’s not about the user; it’s about the whole community.” While the U.S. market is the primary target for AIR’s eVTOL, customers from Israel and the U.K. have already pre-ordered units, and Australia is another potential market. 

Photograph: AIR

Another target goal for AIR is to design an aircraft that will be multi-purpose. Similar to how an automobile can be used for commuting, leisure, or a taxi service, the AIR ONE could be used by package delivery companies like UPS, by first responders, or by those working in agriculture. “It’s like an F150. You can be a plumber with an F150; you can take your family in an F150,” remarked Plaut.

“If enough people [are interested in] using the air as a means of day-to-day transportation, companies will invest in engineering efforts in order to decouple skillsets from safety. In the air, your skillset is your safety—if you’re skilled, you’re alive. In a car, the vehicle protects you. We’re trying to make things that fly as easy to live with as cars.”

Photograph: AIR

Why it’s important: The eVTOL market includes small, recreational aircraft that have a very short range, and the larger eVTOLs and air taxis produced by companies such as Volocopter, Lilium, Archer, Joby, and others that are geared toward commercial passenger-carrying applications. AIR intends for its AIR ONE to fall somewhere in between, a personal vehicle intended for commuting or leisure purposes, that can also be used for commercial applications where possible.

Source // Aviation Today

Posted by Ian Shin