The Pipistrel eVTOL Concept was unveiled at the 2nd annual Uber Elevate Summit on May 8th, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. Previously designed as a blended wing body (BWB), the new 801 eVTOL features 8 lift rotors mounted on a lifting surface inboard of the wing. The Pipistrel team also announced that an entire family of eVTOL’s was being developed for scalability and mission-tailored performance.
However, the Slovenian electric aircraft manufacturer has recently announced a shift in its priorities away from it’s plan to develop the Pipistrel 801 eVTOL for Uber Air’s mobility service. This comes “after delays with the Uber flying taxi program by many international aviation authorities,” the company said. “Continual extensions to the deadline for the development of a flying taxi service, which was commissioned by U.S. company Uber, has given Pipistrel the time to investigate future opportunities, some [of which] have been in planning and development for several years.”
The Uber Air services are set to launch from 2023 in one or more of the early-adopter cities the company has identified, including Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia.
Meanwhile, Pipistrel has advanced its research and development efforts to serve other transport applications, and has revealed plans for two new cargo aircraft as well as a hydrogen-powered 10-seat regional airliner. One of the cargo aircraft now being advanced by Pipistrel is of a similar design to the 801 eVTOL and would carry a payload of 660 pounds approximately 200 miles. In an interview, the company said that it plans to deliver the first aircraft to an undisclosed customer in Asia during 2022 but, for now, has released no more details on its performance and specifications.
The second cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing design based on Pipistrel Alpha Electro electric light aircraft. It is being developed to be remotely piloted or manned and would be used for missions such as humanitarian relief, with packages being dropped from pods on each side of the wing and a cargo payload of almost 250 pounds.
In addition, Pipistrel is working with a group of European companies to develop a 19-passenger, hydrogen-powered aircraft that would fly routes of up to 300 miles at around one-quarter of the operational cost of conventional aircraft. The company reported it is in the final stages of testing a dual hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and said the Miniliner concept could be ready to enter service in 2028.
Why it’s important: The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are evident in the aerial mobility industry. Shifts in focus, as demonstrated by Pipistrel, are the key to not only surviving financially, but also making a lasting impact that could expedite worldwide health service efforts. Pipistrel’s second cargo aircraft has potential to provide relief in locations across the globe where the pandemic is most prevalent.
Source // AINOnline