A new player on the eVTOL market, TCab Tech, has announced that its eVTOL prototype is now conducting test flights in which its aircraft makes full transitions from vertical flight to horizontal cruise.
Above: Rendering of TCab Tech’s E20 eVTOL, with room for four passengers
With a similar design to Joby Aviation, EmbraerX’s Eve, Airbus, Archer and other top eVTOL players, the Chinese TCab E20 has made a landing on the market with an all-electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically like a helicopter, and fly in forward cruise like a traditional airplane.
As of May 15th, ECab announced that its 50% scale prototype has successfully completed test flights in which its aircraft makes full transitions from vertical flight to horizontal cruise modes.
This is announcement is particularly significant as many players in the eVTOL industry have noted that transition from vertical to horizontal flight is the most difficult stage of flight testing.
Watch a video of the most recent flight tests below:
Although one of the world’s most successful eVTOL companies, EHang, is also based in China, TCab Tech is the first company to announce full-transition test flights of an eVTOL aircraft that includes a fixed wing for forward flight. EHang’s 216 AAV (autonomous aerial vehicle) is in highly advanced stages of development as compared to the E20, but its range is limited to about 35 kilometers.
With its wing, TCab expects its aircraft to fly to a range of about 200 kilometers. However, the wing also greatly adds to the aircraft’s overall size, which means that each of these aircraft will address slightly different markets. EHang’s 216 will likely be used within dense urban areas that have heavy ground congestion, while TCab’s E20 will likely be used for travel between cities themselves.
In 2021, EHang announced that it also is creating a longer range eVTOL featuring a fixed wing, which will be able to fly for about 186 kilometers, also aiming at travel between cities. TCab’s E20 will be able to carry four passengers plus a pilot, while EHang’s VT-30 will be fully autonomous and carry 2 passengers.
Above: A rendering of TCab’s E20 as compared with EHANG’s VT30
Why it’s important: With this announcement, TCab aims to position itself as another top eVTOL developer in China. Although its progress is not nearly as advanced as EHang’s 216 AAV, TCab seems to focusing on purely longer range, larger, piloted aircraft for travel between cities, as opposed to the 216’s autonomous infra-city capabilities. EHang is also creating a long-range, autonomous aircraft with room for two passengers, but TCab’s E20 seems to more closely resemble the four-passenger piloted, western designs like Joby Aviation, Archer, and Airbus, that aim at piloted shared air taxi solutions.
- EHang Unveils Long-Range VT-30 AAV to Expand Regional Air Mobility Offerings (May 2021)
- Airbus Vahana Achieves Full Transition Flight (June 2019)
- Archer Aviation’s ‘Maker’ eVTOL aircraft completes first hover flight (December 2021)
- Joby Completes 150-mile Flight, Begins Part 135 Certification Process (July 2021)