Aerofugia, the aviation subsidiary of the Chinese automobile group Geely, annouced that the 5-seat eVTOL prototype named “AE200 X01” made the first flight in hovering mode on 17th January 2023.
The prototype has eight propulsion units four of which in the front can tilt for both vertical takeoff and landing and cruise flight while the other four units in the back are in fixed position for VTOL operation only. This configuration is a big deviation from the full-size mock-up of the previous design concept named TF-2 which had lift+cruise configuation without any tilting function. Notably the name of the flying prototype is also different from the mock-up whose name TF-2 back then was obviously a continuity of the TF-1 roadable airplane (aka a real “flying car”) of Terrafugia which was acquired by Geely in 2017 but whose operation has been literally shut down in 2019 when Geely laid off the majority of the staff. The change of the name may indicate a change of eVTOL product plan of Aerofugia who formed a joint-venture in China with Volocopter in 2021.
According to Aerofugia, they applied to the Chinese regulator CAAC for the eVTOL certification in November 2022. In December 2022 the final assembly and all tests of key system of the prototype were completed and the first flight was accomplished on 17th January 2023.
Original press release (in Chinese lanuage only): https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/P4Q50jyjycyr9Qe4xR2CNQ