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.
May 31st 2022, TCab Tech, an eVTOL startup based in Shanghai China, and Safran Electrical & Power, announced a cooperation agreement to equip Tcab’s E20 eVTOL aircraft with ENGINeUSTM electric smart motor of Safran.
TCab Tech is currently developing E20, a 5-seater passenger-carrying eVTOL aircraft equipped with six rotors – four tilt and two lift rotors – and a high gull-wing with a conventional tailplane design. The eVTOL targets a maximum design range of 200km, and a cruising speed of 260km/hour. Safran Electrical & Power will supply all six ENGINeUS TM electric smart motors. TCab targets CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) certification for the E20 by 2025.
The ENGINeUSTM product line includes a broad range of electric motors with power outputs from single digit to 500 kW. The ENGINeUSTM motor that will equip the E20, delivers more than 100 kW at take-off and features a fully integrated motor controller within the machine. The thermal management is provided by an optimized air-cooling system. The certification of the electric motor is planned for mid-2023.
“A world class motor partner is essential for the development of the eVTOL aircraft.” said Yon Wui NG, CEO & Founder of TCab Tech. “We are excited to work together with Safran to integrate the E20 with high reliability and superb performance electric propulsion system. The smart motor has a well-advanced certification plan matching our E20 certification needs, which makes it an ideal choice for our eVTOL aircraft.”
“Electric motor is a critical design consideration for an eVTOL aircraft because it drives the aircraft configuration and weight, the rotor size and noise, the battery pack voltage and power, the propulsion system architecture and thermal management…etc. Collaboration with Safran increases the maturity level of our aircraft design especially the electric propulsion system design.” said Yinji HUANG, Chief Engineer of TCab Tech.
“By providing our ENGINeUSTM electric motors to this revolutionary E20 eVTOL designed by TCab Tech, Safran Electrical & Power is participating to write a new page in urban air mobility. This project combines breakthrough technologies, a low-carbon footprint and a high level of safety due to the electric distributed propulsion”, said Thierry Sieg, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Safran Electrical & Power.
“By bringing sustainable and innovative technologies, Safran is proud to partner with TCab Tech to be further present in this new emerging and environmentally friendly sector of the urban air mobility in China. We have high hopes for E20 eVTOL’s prospect in the Chinese market”, said Philippe Bardol, Safran General Delegate for China and CEO of Safran China.
China’s Ministry of Transportation today published the highly anticipated new CAAC Part 23 certification rules which will officially comes into effect on 1 August 2021.
Similar to FAA & EASA’s new Part 23, the new CAAC Part 23 consolidates normal, utility, aerobatic and commuter categories and is performance-based, which is expected to ease the certification for light fixed-wing airplanes and to encourage innovation and new product designs.
What is most important in this new rule may be that it establishs a new section H specifically for electric powered airplane. The section H includes certification requirements for electric propulsion, battery and controller, which paves the ground for the certification of Part 23 electric airplane. Currently Liaoning Ruixiang Airplane Co. has been applying for Part 23 certificate for its four-seat single-motor electric airplane called RX4. Liaoning Ruixiang Airplane Co obtained the light sport airplane (LSA) type certificate from CAAC for its RX-1E two-seat electric airplane in Feburary 2015 and received the production certifiate in December 2015, making RX-1E the world’s first type certified LSA electric airplane.
During the US President Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung announced that Hyundai is going to invest additional $5 billion in the United States by 2025 on top of the $5.5 billion investment earmarked for an electric vehicle and the accompanying battery manufactuering facilities announced earlier during the week.
The domains of Hyundai’s investment will include robotics, AI technologies, autonomous driving and, more interestingly, advanced air mobility (AAM).
It is no surprise that Hyundai includes AAM in the investment plan. Hyundai has been pursuing AAM development in the US since the beginning of its AAM project. Hyundai set up an urban air mobility (UAM) division in 2019 and revealed its S-A1 eVTOL design concept at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. At Uber Elevate Summit in that same year Hyundai announced a partnership with Uber Elevate, making it the first automotive manufacturer to officially join Uber’s urban air mobility vision. Hyundai’s AAM team include many veterans from the US aerospace industry including the head of the AAM divison and former NASA deputy adminstrator Jaiwon Shin.
In November 2021 Hyundai announced to rename its AAM/UAM division to Supernal headquartered in Washington DC and designated Jaiwon Shin to be the CEO. Supernal targets to launch commercial service of AAM in 2028.
HY4 is a four-seat hydrogen fuel cells technology demonstrator. A team led by Prof. Josef Kallo from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center has been developing HY4’s powertrain and worked with industry and research partners Pipistrel, H2FLY, the University of Ulm, and Stuttgart Airport to make the maiden flight in 2016 a reality.
Since HY4 has more than one seat, it literally can be called the world’s first passenger aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system. Down the road, the team is partnering with Deutsche Aircraft to develop a hydrogen-powered Dornier 328, a 40-seat aircraft covering up to 2000 km, by 2025.
The aircraft was built by the Slovenian airplane manufacturer Pipistrel, and consists of two Pipistrel Taurus G4 motorglider fuselages connected by a common central-wing section on top of which the propulsion unit is located. This consists of an 80kw electric motor with the propeller in front and three low-temperature hydrogen fuel cells behind. The hydrogen is carried in two high-pressure tanks made of carbon fiber, located in each of the two fuselages just aft of the passenger cabin. HY4, as a technology demonstrator, can fly at a cruising speed of 145km/h and maximum speed of approximately 200km/h. Its range varies from 750km to 1,500km, depending on the speed, load and altitude parameters. The empty weight of HY4 without the fuel cell, battery and storage system is approximately 630kg, whereas the maximum weight is 1,500kg.
With the success of HY4, the team aimed more ambitious goals. In 2021 H2FLY, the managerial body of HY4 project, secured a large funding both through a strategic investor and a wide range of government-backed research grants. A sixth-generation fuel cell engine, powering the latest HY4 model, was designed by Josef Kallo and his team. Despite the difficult circumstances, the modified HY4 took off on 6 November 2020, in Slovenia, towards a new horizon of commercial prospect.
Drawing a large crowd everyday during show, the H3PS project’s demonstrator airplane located at the front row of A7 hall dedicated to “e-Flight-Expo” was certainly a highlight at AERO 2022. It is jointly developed by Tecnam Aircraft, Rolls-Royce and Rotax’s specialized teams and successfully flew for the first time on 21 December, 2021. The flight was performed by Tecnam’s Chief Experimental Test Pilot Lorenzo De Stefano, with Tecnam, Rolls-Royce and Rotax Teams on the ground. The Permit to Fly was issued by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.
H3PS stands for “High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain”. It is a project funded in 2018 under the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. With H3PS’ success, Tecnam Aircraft and project partners have validated the aircraft’s scalability potential, lower emissions, state of the art power management technology, building a viable launchpad for future green aircraft models.
H3PS is converted from Tecnam P2010 single-engine four-seat airplane. The airplane is normally powered by a 180hp Lycoming IO-360 combustion engine, but the H3PS demonstrator is converted to a 104kW Rotax 915iS engine coupled with a 30kW Rolls-Royce electric motor, totaling 134kW (180hp) powertrain in a fully integrated parallel hybrid configuration. As such, H3PS aircraft is first of its kind of parallel hybrid electric airplane.
Not intended for market purposes, the H3PS demonstrator airplane served as a validation tool and launchpad for Tecnam Aircraft and its project partners, who are now focused on expanding their sustainability efforts. As an EU-funded research project, H3PS has limits of duration and budget and is thus more for research and technology demonstration purposes rather than for commercial use. However, as the participating partners of the project mentioned, the technology and experiences obtained from H3PS will be transferred to other application which are intended for commercial use. Tecnam’s P-Volt is such case.
A Chinese eVTOL startup named WEFLY annouced that they have closed angel financing of “several tens of millions USD”. The company claims that their team come from veteran OEM with FAA and EASA certification experiences. The company however does not reveal any aircraft design details in the annoucement except for indicating that they are working on a passenger-carrying eVTOL design. The following image which appears to be vertiport with a company logo is the only image disclosed by the company as of today.