Leo Aircraft, which is creating a compact eVTOL powered by all-electric jet propulsion, announced its prototype’s first manned flight this week.
Leo Flight has a vision for an all-electric aircraft that can take to the skies as easily as a traditional automotive vehicle uses roads. This means that the electric aircraft it’s designing will take up no more space than a common SUV, while still being able to seat two passengers plus bags and a pilot, and travel for around 250 miles per full charge.
The company was founded by Pete Bitar and Carlos Salaff in spring of 2020, and since won NASA’s 2021 HeroX challenge.
Unlike most eVTOL aircraft, Leo Flight’s Coupe is propelled using a system of small all-electric jet engines embedded in the vehicle’s sides, as well as pusher jets at its rear. Compared with competitor aircraft, Leo Flight claims that this design will increase efficiency and versatility, will keep the vehicle compact and configurable, and will be safer due to the lack of external propellers.
Also unlike competitors, the Leo Coupe will be designed for both private vehicle ownership in addition to commercial transportation.
Late last week, the company announced the first manned flight of its prototype. Although this flight was a tethered hover test, its success speaks volumes to the potential of this technology.
Why it’s important: Leo Flight’s Coupe aircraft currently has very few competitors in the space of compact electric jet propulsion, with the possible exceptions of the Lilium jet, and the Mayman Aerospace Speeder. The Lilium jet however has a much larger size footprint, while the Mayman Speeder currently has a much smaller configuration. This means that currently for its size segment, Leo’s coupe is the only aircraft offering this type of propulsion.
Other competitors in this size and target market segment include the Air One, and the Skyfly Axe, although both of these feature external propellor configurations. Given that Lilium has proven the feasibility of this kind of jet propulsion for vertical flight, Leo Aircraft has a solid chance at creating a dynamic and highly functional aircraft for this size category. Additionally, the company could also extend into other vehicle sizes and configurations using the propulsion technology currently under development.
Source // Leo Aircraft