Today at Sunward Aircraft’s factory in Hunan province, China, Volkswagen China’s CEO Dr.Stephan Wöllenstein unveiled the full-size mockup of their eVTOL design named “V.Mo”.
According to VW China, the design will build on existing autonomous driving solutions and battery technology to create zero-emission mobility. The prototype is a lift+cruise configuration with a length of 11.2 meters and a wingspan of 10.6 meters, eight propellors dedicated to vertical take-off and landing and two propellers for horizontal propulsion.
VW China developed the design together with Sunward Aircraft which is the largest producer of light sport airplane (LSA) in China with over 100 sales per year and is also producing small helicopter and multicopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
VW China intends to further optimize the design, and plans to test fly a demonstrator in the second half of this year, and to test fly the improved prototype at the end of summer 2023. This pure electric, fully autonomous flying eVTOL aircraft will eventually be able to carry four passengers and luggage for up to 200 kilometers range.
On 27 July 2022 Volkswagen’s Chinese subsidiary will unveil their eVTOL design. VW China released a short teaser video today for the event.
VW China has been studying eVTOL project for a while. According to the teaser video, it seems that the design is a lift+cruise configuration with a canard. It is said in the Chinese eVTOL community that VW China partners with a Chinese light airplane manufactuer for this eVTOL development. What’s VW China’s plan for this eVTOL? We will keep you updated when more details are available.
The 16th Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS) , hosted by the Vertical Flight Society again for this year, returns to an in-person format at Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 23-24, 2022, the weekend before EAA AirVenture. EAS 2022 will be a hybrid event at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (at the Culver Family Welcome Center) and online. So if you can’t come in person, you can have the option to join online, but coming to Oshkosh maybe just for Airventure, the largest general aviation airshow and fly-in, is certianly recommended!
As the world’s longest-running electric aviation meeting, EAS 2022 presenters will discuss the latest in electric aircraft, propulsion systems, energy sources, certification, regional and urban use cases, and the current market opportunities — for electric vertical / short / conventional takeoff and landing (eVTOL / eSTOL / eCTOL) aircraft. Each moderated panel session will include a Q&A discussion with presenters and attendees. The program will run from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm CDT on Saturday and Sunday with seven sessions a day. So prepare for a packed schedule.
The cost of the two-day symposium is $175 for on-site or virtual attendees. There is also a special virtual-only option for VFS student members of only $25. Details on the agenda, registration and sponsorships are posted at: www.vtol.org/eas.
The digital version of the latest “e-Flight-Journal” is available for download now at: https://pdf.e-flight-journal.com The printed version will be distributed at EAA Airventure next week. So pick up a hard copy while they last if you come to Oshkosh yourself or read the PDF version here. Choice are all yours!
If you have missed the trade show recently, no problem! In this issue, you’ll find many show reports including the 11th e-Flight-Expo at AERO Friedrichshafen, ILA Berlin Airshow as well as the Greentech Festival in Berlin. There is a full spectrum of electric aviation development in these shows from hydrogen, electric motor, to eVTOL and fixed wing.
You’ll see the report of several maiden flights of different types of electric aircraft including the first transition flight of the Prosperity eVTOL of Autoflight, as well as the Elektra Trainer two-seat 600kg electric ultralight from Elektra Solar.
If you are a tech nerd, you will find a very interesting exclusive interview with the Chinese eVTOL startup Pantuo Aviation who has designed a futuristic looking ducted-fan eVTOL,test flew a sub-scale demonstrator in short time, and won a design award in Germany. Their engineering team explained many technological details of their eVTOL design.
While waiting for the next issue, please enjoy reading this current issue!
On 29 June 2022, a two-seater full electric aircraft Elektra Trainer from Elektra Solar GmbH (a spin-off of the DLR Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics) took off from Memmingen International Airport in Germany for its maiden flight. The test pilot Uwe Northmann was at control.
The flight lasted about 20 minutes. Elektra Trainer took off in less than 100 meters with very little sound and no emissions. According to Uwe, the airplane has an impressive climb rate over 8 m/s. At cruising speed, Elektra Trainer consumes only around 10 kW of power.
This aircraft accumulates the company’s decades of experience in the development of solar and electric-powered aircraft. Elektra Trainer is primarily based on the proven technology of Elektra One, the single-seat electric ultralight aircraft from Elektra Solar, which was certified in the German ultralight class last year.
Elektra Trainer was designed for flight schools and flight clubs use. The company expects the 0perating costs to be are less than 60 EUR/hour which is about half the cost of an ultralight aircraft with a combustion engine and to justify the higher acquisition price compared with regular ultralight airplanes. In fact, the company will begin flight tests for German ultralight certification and plans to complete the UL certification process by the end of this year. The company has already started preparing for series production.
What is more interesting is that Elektra Solar GmbH puts a cloud infrastructure into operation for automatic system diagnostics and preventive maintenance (digital aircraft platform) for Elektra Trainer. The flight status data is uploaded to a cloud-based server and automatically analyzed using AI methods. The errors and deviations from the normal state are reported to the owner and/or a maintenance company. The company expects this technology and method to increase the safety of the operation and to reduce the maintenance effort.
Elektra Solar GmbH, founded by the electric aviation veteran Calin Gologan, plans to expand its Elektra electric aircraft family up to a 10-seat regional commuter electric aircraft with more than 500km range in 10 years.
Some key specifications of Elektra Trainer:
2.5 hours flight duration
Dual redundant electric drive system
1.25 m wide cockpit for 2 m tall pilots
Assembly time from transport trailer to ready to fly: approx. 30 minutes.
12 kW portable charging station (in the luggage compartment)
Variable pitch propeller
Electric retractable undercarriage
Digital cockpit instrumentation
Digital aircraft platform for automatic system diagnostics and preventive maintenance
The German eVTOL startup Lilium is developing and is to produce electric motor with Honeywell and DENSO for its 7-seat tilt ducted fan eVTOL.
Honeywell is already developing the Lilium Jet’s avionics and flight control systems and invested in Lilium in 2021. Honeywell also has an alliance with DENSO to develop aerospace electric propulsion solutions. Through this collaboration, Lilium’s e-motor will benefit from Honeywell’s aerospace expertise as well as DENSO’s experience in high-quality volume production.
According to Lilium, the dedicated e-motor will be a proprietary, high-performance system, on which Lilium, DENSO and Honeywell teams have been working for nearly two years. It is expected to bring exceptional performance and reliability with zero operating emissions. The e-motor will be an air-cooled design which offers structural simplicity and ease of maintenance compared with traditional liquid cooling systems, and therefore has the potential to significantly reduce aircraft operating costs. The e-motor has its rotor and stator in a centrifugal or ‘radial’ configuration, compared to traditional axial designs. This lowers the component’s weight, manufacturing costs and susceptibility to foreign object damage. It also boasts industry-leading power density, with the first prototypes designed to extract over 100kW of power from a system weighing just over 4kg.
The Chinese eVTOL startup AutoFlight released a video to show that their latest Prosperity I four-seat eVTOL Proof of Concept prototype completed the full transition flight from vertical takeoff, hovering, cruise to the final vertical landing. The test flight is believed to be uncrewed, lasted about 8 minutes and the maximum speed in the flight reached about 90kts.
Prosperity I is a lift+cruise design with eight electric motors and propellors dedicated to vertical flight and one motor for cruise. The design is full electric and has four seats including the pilot. Autoflight is headquartered in Shanghai and has set up a research and certification center in Augsburg near Munich.
After publishing the new certification rule Part 23 (CCAR-23-R4) for fixed wing light airplane earlier this month, the Chinese civil aviation regulator CAAC released the relevant advisory circular (AC) draft yesterday for public opinions which will end by 30 June. The AC draft includes technical requirement for Part 23 certification and includes means of compaliance (MOC) for section H in Part 23 for electric airplane. This MOC paves the ground for Part 23 certification for electric airplane in China. Currently the four-seat full electric RX4E airplane designed by RXGAC in Liaoning, China is undergoing CAAC Part 23 certification.
Shanghai-based Pantuo Aero revealed a short video showing the flight of the 50% sub-scale demonstrator “T1” of their tilt-fan eVTOL. Pantuo claimed that it took about one year to design, production and system test the demonstrator.
The tilt ducted fan design is different from Lilium’s design in that the ducted fans on Pantuo’s design are relatively bigger and tilt as a whole wing structure while the ducted fans on Lilium’s design are located on the rear part of the wing where ailerons are usually located.
Pantuo’s eVTOL is designed to carry 5 people on board including the pilot, to fly up to 300km/h and to reach 250km in range.
The leading eVTOL startup Lilium announced that Klaus Roewe, industry veteran from Airbus and former leader of one of the most profitable commercial aircraft programs, is to replace the co-founder and current CEO Daniel Wiegand as CEO effective on 1 August 2022. Daniel Wiegand will continue as Lilium’s Chief Engineer for Innovation and Future Programs and as a Board Director.
During his 30 years at Airbus, Klaus Roewe has spearheaded all phases of the life cycle of a commercial aircraft across Engineering, Manufacturing, Program management and Customer Support. He led Airbus’ most important business line, the A320 and A320neo programs.
Daniel and his co-founders launched the company in 2015, designing and proving out a novel eVTOL jet architecture. Since then, the company has gone from a start-up to a Nasdaq-listed company with over 800 employees.
Klaus Roewe is not the first Airbus veteran joining eVTOL startup in Europe. Former Airbus CEO, Tom Enders, joined Lilium as the Chairman of the board last year. In March this year Dirk Hoke, former CEO of Airbus Defence & Space, was announced as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Volocopter, starting September 2022. In January this year Shanghai-based eVTOL startup Autoflight annouced today that they have set up a reseasrch, development and certification center in Augsburg, Germany, and will apply for EASA certification of their V1500M 4-seat eVTOL. The former head of Airbus EC135 and H145 projects Mark Henning joined as the head of Autoflight Europe.