Boeing-sponsored GoFly Prize to Launch new competition

On January 23, the GoFly competition, initiated and sponsored by Boeing, released a teaser video indicating that a new round of competition will begin, this time probably for air rescue scenario. Details will be announced on the GoFly website later. For more details: What’s Next – GoFly Prize GoFly Prize

Boeing launched the GoFly personal aerial vehicle competition in September 2017 to encourage design of innovative vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The inaugural competition was designed for personal use with the following basic requirements: safe, quiet, ultra compact, single-seater, range of not less than 20 miles (32 km), vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) or near-vertical take-off and landing. The rules of the competition are detailed at:

The first GoFly competition attracted more than 800 design teams and more than 3,600 members from more than 100 countries according to GoFly website. The total award of the competition was 2 million US dollars, including 1 million US dollars for the first place, 100,000 US dollars for the “disruption” special prize sponsored by Pratt & Whitney, 250,000 US dollars for the quietest model and 250,000 US dollars for the smallest model that meets the technical requirements of the competition.

In February 2019, Boeing selected 40 Phase 1 winning teams, and in March 2020, five Phase 2 recommended teams were selected, each receiving $50,000 in prize money for that phase, followed by the third phase of the most difficult prototype construction and test flight. On February 29, 2020, Boeing held the inaugural final round of the competition in San Francisco. It is worth mentioning that since 2020 is a leap year, February 29 is a leap month, and February 29 in English is “leaping day” which exactly reflects the purpose of the GoFly competition.

Since none of the aircraft designs that made it to the inaugural GoFly finals did not meet the above requirements, none of them were eligible for the million-dollar prize, and only the design of the TeTra team from Japan won the $100,000 “Disruption” award sponsored by Pratt & Whitney. After the first competition, a number of participating teams began their entrepreneurial journey.

CAAC issued the type certificate to EHang eVTOL

Today on 13 October 2023 the Chinese regulator CAAC issued the type certificate to EHang EH216-S two-seat eVTOL in Beiijng, China. This is the first type certififcate issued to an eVTOL in the world, as well as the first type certificate issued to a pilotless passenger-carrying aircraft in the world.

The issurance ceremony was held in Beijing today

The director of the airworthness certification department of CAAC, Ms.Yang Zhenmei (left) passed the type certificate to the founder and CEO of EHang, Mr.Hu Huazhi (right)

According to the information released at the ceremony, EH216-S has a maximum design speed of 130km/h, maximum cruising speed of 90km/h, maximum takeoff weight of 620kg and service ceiling of 120m (AGL).

EHang applied for the certification to CAAC in 2020 and CAAC officially accepted the application in Feburary 2021 so it took about two and half years for EHang to obtain this type certificate. According to various sources, this certificate comes with some operational limits and EHang still needs go through some process before commercial operation. Thus many things still remain to be seen and it might be too early to say this is the success of EHang. Instead, this certificate might be just the beginning. Nevertheless the title of the world’s first certified pilotless eVTOL should be a good reason for EHang to celebrate at this moment.

H2FLY Made World’s First Piloted Flight of Liquid  Hydrogen Powered Electric Aircraft

H2FLY, the Stuttgart, Germany-based developer of hydrogen-electric powertrain systems for aircraft, announced on 7 September that it has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.

The H2FLY team has completed four flights powered by liquid hydrogen as part of its flight test campaign, including one flight that lasted for over three hours. The flights were completed with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen that powered the aircraft.

Results of the test flights indicate that using liquid hydrogen in place of gaseous hydrogen will double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft from 750 km to 1,500 km, marking a critical step towards the delivery of emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights.

It is worth mentioning that H2FLY was acquired by the leading eVTOL company Joby in 2021.

The successful campaign marks a significant milestone for H2FLY, reflecting the extensive insights from the company’s research efforts. Moreover, it is the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.

Beside project HEAVEN, the work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMVD), and The University of Ulm.

For more information please refer to:

Wisk and Archer Formed Partnership instead of the Litigation

How do you get out of the litigation with a competent competitor? Perhaps by turning it into a partner and, even better, a shareholder could be a winning situation. This is the result of the year-long legal battle between Archer and Wisk now wholly-owned by Boeing.

On 10 August 2023 Wisk Aero (“Wisk”) and Archer Aviation (“Archer”) , along with The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) which is the mother company of Wisk, announced that they have reached a settlement to resolve the federal and state court litigation between the parties on undisclosed terms. Simultaneously, the parties have entered into a collaboration that looks forward to the growth and development of the advanced air mobility industry. Archer has agreed to make Wisk its exclusive provider of autonomy technology for future variants of Archer’s aircraft. As part of the parties’ collaboration, Boeing is making an investment in Archer that will support the integration of Wisk’s autonomous technology in future variants of Archer’s aircraft.

With this solution Archer successfully closed the oversubscribed PIPE as part Of $215M investment round led By Stellantis; ARK & United Airline. United Airlines’ investment in the PIPE is its third time investing in Archer as it originally invested $25M in 2021 in connection with entering into its aircraft purchase agreement with Archer for up to $1.5B worth of aircraft and just last year made a $10M pre-delivery payment for the first 100 of those aircraft

In addition to ARK Investment Management LLC (“ARK”) and United Airlines, the oversubscribed PIPE financing includes participation from an impressive roster of existing and new investors, including The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) and Ken Moelis, through a related investment vehicle

The PIPE investment combined with the $70M that Stellantis accelerated as part of its investment in this round under the January 2023 strategic funding agreement will bring Archer’s aggregate funding to over $1.1B to date.

Vertical’s eVTOL Prototype Had An Accident

On 9 August 2023 the British eVTOL startup Vertical Aerospace filed a K-6 form to the Securities and Exchang Commission (SEC) revealing an accident involved with its VX4 eVTOL prototype.

According to the filing, VX4 had an accident on Wednesday August 9, 2023 during flight testing at its Flight Test Centre at Cotswold Airport, UK. The aircraft was remotely piloted and there were no injuries.
Vertical Aerospace stated in the filing that the flight test programme is designed to establish the limits of the aircraft’s performance, and the incident occurred during an uncrewed test of the aircraft’s maneuverability during a motor failure test scenario, which is a key requirement to progress to crewed operations. They are working closely with the relevant authorities.

VX4 prototype of Vertical Aerospace

Archer Signed $142 Million Contract With US Military for 6 eVTOL

Ther American eVTOL startup Archer announced that it has significantly expanded its partnership with the DoD by signing new contracts with the U.S. Air Force with a total value of up to $142 million including the delivery of up to six of Archer’s Midnight aircraft to the Air Force, the sharing of additional flight test data and certification related test reports, pilot training, and the development of maintenance and repair operations.

According to Archer, this is the largest contract of the U.S. Air Force’s “Agility Prime” program as of today. Archer has been partnering with the DoD since 2021 on a series of projects through the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program with the goal of helping the AFWERX Agility Prime program assess the transformational potential of the vertical flight market and eVTOL technologies for DoD purposes. Now, with Archer recently completing the manufacturing of its first Midnight aircraft, the DoD recognizes that with its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, target payload of approximately 1,000lbs, proprietary electric powertrain system, and low noise profile, Archer’s aircraft represents a potential paradigm shift in military aviation and operations. These aircraft hold the promise of enhancing rapid response, agility, and operational effectiveness across a wide range of mission profiles, from personnel transport and logistics support to rescue operations and more. Archer’s Midnight aircraft are expected to provide a safer and quieter alternative to helicopters while being more cost-effective for the U.S. military to transport, operate and maintain in the field.

Autoflight Made World’s First Formation Flight of Three Autonomous eVTOL Aircraft

Autoflight, a leading eVTOL company with facilities in China and Germany, annouced on July 27 2023 that they have successfully executed a world’s first formation flight of three autonomous eVTOL aircraft in Shanghai.

Three of Autoflight’s “Prosperity I” eVTOL were involved in the groundbreaking flight, demonstrating the company’s capability in rapid prototype design, manufacturing, and its ambition to shape the future of aerial transportation.

“We aim to complement urban and regional means of transport for all people by building very safe, quiet, and affordable airtaxis,” says Tian Yu, Founder of Autoflight, who has decades of experience developing and delivering remotely piloted aircraft at an immense scale.

Lukasz Gadowski, legendary technology entrepreneur, investor, and backer of Autoflight, adds, “It is a delight to be part of a venture that’s reshaping the frontiers of technology and innovation. With this successful flight, we have set a new standard for the eVTOL industry.”

The company, with dual headquarters in Augsburg, Germany, and Shanghai, China, previously achieved a world record flight in February 2023 where one of their prototypes covered 250 km on a single battery charge, demonstrating the potential for sustainability in the sector.

Over the past 18 months, Autoflight has continued to revolutionize eVTOL technology, achieving a series of world firsts: the first full-scale eVTOL transition flight in January 2022 and the first eVTOL full length flight video release in June 2022.

The record-setting formation flight saw three generations of the “Prosperity I” aircraft, indicating the rapid evolution of the aircraft’s development. The company plans to make the prototypes into products, with a cargo version set to be released for safe cargo transport in Asia next year, and a passenger version gradually developed in the coming years, meeting the highest safety standards for aviation.

“The formation flight is a testament to our commitment towards making aerial transport safe, sustainable, and accessible,” says Mark Henning, former Airbus Helicopter Engineering Chief and head of the Autoflight Europe team. “We have much more to come.”

For more information:

Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 Took Off

On 20 July 2023, the all-electric eDA40 of Diamond Aircraft made its first flight at Diamond Aircraft’s headquarters in Wiener Neustadt in Austria. This marks a significant milestone for the manufacturer and is a big step towards certifying the aircraft. The first flight was piloted by Diamond’s Head of Flight Test Sören Pedersen the maiden flight covered system checks, all basic maneuvers and initial performance evaluation.

Diamond Aircraft annouced the eDA40 project in 2021 which will apply for EASA/FAA Part 23 certification. eDA40 is designed to target the flight training market. The electric propulsion is an ENGINeUSTM electric smart motor with 130kw peak power by Safran Electrical & Power and charged by Electric Power Systems’ (EPS) battery module equipped with a Direct Current (DC) fast charging system. eDA40 is designed to have 90 minutes duration and 20 minutes quick recharge which should be good enough for the circuit flights of flight training.

The eDA40 is scheduled to be presented at AERO Friedrichshafen and e-Flight-Expo from 17-20 April 2024.

For more information about eDA40:

CATL Formed Aviation JV with COMAC

on July 19 2023 the corporate registry in China indicated that a company called “Commercial Aicraft Times”(商飞时代)was formed. What is interesting is that this is a joint venture among CATL, the largest lithium battery manufacturer in the world, COMAC (China’s Airbus/Boeing equivalent and the manufacturer of China’s C919 jetliner) and Shanghai Jiaotong University (Jiaotong means “transportation” in Chinese and by no accident it is the alma mater of the founder and chairman of CATL). The name of the joint venture is obviously a combination of COMAC and CATL in Chinese language.

According to the description of the business scope in the corporate registry, the joint venture company’s business scope includes ” the design and production of civil aircraft parts, civil aircraft (engine, propeller) production, battery sales, etc.”

This partnership may be not a surprise considering that the three parties have already signed a MoU last year and CATL mentioned the possible aviation use at the introduction event unveiling its latest battery technology at Shanghai Auto Show in this April. It should be very interesting to see the outcome of this partnership.

Lilium Set Up Asia HQ in Shenzhen

local media reports that the German eVTOL manufacturer Lilium signed an agreement with the government of Bao’an district of Shenzhen city to set up their Asia headquarter in Bao’an district.

The agreement was the headline of the local daily newspaper

Lilium also reportedly signed 100 pre-order with a local helicopter operator.

As a background, Shenzhen is the head office of Tecent who is the largest shareholder of Lilium and who invested extra $100mn in Lilium in May