Based in Palo Alto, CA, aircraft manufacturer Kitty Hawk has added a third vehicle to its developmental fleet. Project Heaviside joins the Flyer, a recreational vertical takeoff and landing rotorcraft with a single-seat configuration, and the Cora, Kitty Hawk’s two-passenger autonomous aircraft designed to fit the requirements of aerial mobility applications. Heaviside, named after renowned physicist and electrical engineer Oliver Heaviside, is a small eVTOL aircraft designed to quickly takeoff and land from nearly any location, but at a noise level acceptable for urban and densely-populated environments.
Stage of Development
Company Name: Kitty Hawk Corporation is a California-based company.
Zephyr Airworks is the operator of Kitty Hawk in New Zealand.
Headquarters: Mountain View, California
Kitty Hawk CEO: Sebastian Thrun
Product Name: Heaviside
Type of Machine: High-performance electric VTOL vehicle for passenger applications.
Powerplant: Heaviside is powered by 8 all-electric independent lift fans, which enable it to take off and land vertically like a helicopter. Six are distributed along the wing of the vehicle, and two are mounted on the canard, forward of the cockpit.
Payload/Range: Little is currently known about Heaviside's flight envelope, but as a smaller, quieter variant, proportional differences to the flagship Cora are expected.
Power Output: Designed for rapid, low power output flights, Heaviside will be capable of a 15-minute flight that uses less than half the energy of a car. Power demand is highest during vertical takeoff operations, then drastically decreases during winged, horizontal flight.
Noise Output: According to Kitty Hawk, the Heaviside vehicle is roughly 100 times quieter than a regular helicopter. Once in the air, the vehicle blends into the background noise of a city or suburb, barely discernible to the human ear.
Our Take on Heaviside
Kitty Hawk made its first flight of its flagship Cora on March 13th, 2018, and sparked a large amount of media attention. If the company can successfully navigate the certification process with New Zealand's CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and argue for equivalency under the United State's Federal Aviation Administration, Kitty Hawk has the potential to be one of the leading manufacturers of flying taxis to both private and commercial users. As one of the longstanding concerns in aerial mobility, noise has been placed at the forefront of Kitty Hawk’s focus for the Heaviside Project. With tangible comparisons to more noisy counterparts, the team’s prototype vehicle shows promising results and has potential to gain public acceptance for future implementation. However, other performance characteristics such as the vehicle's flight envelope and payload capabilities still remain unknown.
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