On September 13 2020 at the 2020 World UAV Conference held in Shenzhen, China, Autoflight Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. unveiled V400 “Albatross” electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for logistics for the global market, as well as announced its eVTOL product development roadmap.
V400 has two models with full electric and hybrid power respectively. Both models have 400kg maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and 100kg payload capacity. V400 is the first eVTOL in China specifically designed for logistics application and with over 100kg payload. With full payload the V400 electric model has 300km range while the V400 hybrid model has up to 1000km range, making V400 the logistics eVTOL with the longest range and the highest payload in China as of today. Autoflight have completed the construction of V400 prototype and plan to make the maiden flight by the year end.
Autoflight plan to develop eVTOL products for both logistics use and passenger carrying use such as urban air mobility (UAM), and pursue flight permit and airworthiness certification in China when relevant category and certification specification are established.
On 12 and 13 September 2020, the annual electric fly-in was held in Grenchen airport in Switzerland. Swiss aviation pioneer BERTRAND PICCARD was the patron of the event this year. Sixteen different projects of electric and hybrid powered aircraft were at the show. The fly-in had the first eTALK, the panel discussion, which brought together experienced experts from various fields of aviation.
The eTrohphy was handed over for the longest non-stop-flight to Grenchen with an electric propulsion system. The winning Antares 20E Team, with pilot Klaus Ohlmann, covered a flight distance of 357.6 km and received the eTrophy.
On 3 September 2020 the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced the addition of Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division as an Associate Member Full.
“We welcome Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division to GAMA. It is exciting to see automotive manufacturers enter the advanced air mobility sector of the aviation industry. The innovative technologies that are coming out of this rapidly growing sector are propelling general and business aviation into the future,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA President and CEO
The Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group is helping define a new category of mobility for the world’s communities. It is developing a smart, people-centered electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) air vehicle, tailored to the urban and regional mobility needs of tomorrow’s cities. In January, Hyundai and Uber Elevate announced their partnership to develop air taxis together.
On 1 September 2020 Pipistrel, the pioneer of Type Certified electric aviation such as the EASA-certified Velis electric airplane, presented the Nuuva V300 as the flagship model of the Nuuva series of unmanned air vehicles (UAV). Nuuva V300 embodies Pipistrel’s vision to disrupt aerial cargo transportation by commercializing the use of electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. The highly customizable autonomous aircraft can carry up to 460 kg, is easy and economical to operate, and offers the efficiency and reliability of electric powertrains. Entry into service is planned for the second half of 2023.
The large cargo compartment accepts up to 3 Euro-pallets (EPAL) that can be easily loaded with a regular forklift. The Nuuva V300 then flies a preloaded flight plan fully autonomously, controlled by a highly reliable digital flight control system. Continuous communication allows the ground operator, who manages the vehicle with simple mouse-clicks, to have ultimate control in case of changes or cancellation of the flight. The Nuuva V300 takes-off and lands using eight independent battery-powered Pipistrel E-811 electric engines, already Type Certified. The whole system is safeguarded by the integrated health self‑monitoring system that alerts of any potential malfunction even before it occurs, increasing the reliability and safety. Nuuva V300’s batteries can be charged by simply plugging-in to a SkyChargeTM by Pipistrel and Green Motion charging station
The Nuuva V300 can be customized for a wide range of missions. For operators that prioritize longer range, the vehicle’s payload capacity and anti-ice capabilities can be traded-off for more usable fuel, being able to transport 50-kg payload for as far as 2,500 km – all this without compromising the ability to take-off and land vertically from altitudes as high as 8,000 ft. At lower take-off altitudes and with shorter mission requirements, the payload can be increased to up to 460 kg, beating the coveted 1,000 lb threshold.
The smaller sibling of the Nuuva family, the V20, shares the same architecture and advantages of the larger V300 but is designed as a lightweight cargo courier carrying payloads of up to 20 kg. First customers will be able to take deliveries as early as 2021.
British company Vertical Aerospace today unveiled its new eVTOL design VA-1X. It is designed ‘to be a high performing aircraft, able to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities.’ It will be taken through certification with EASA in Europe and is on course to start commercial flights in 2024. More information at: https://www.vertical-aerospace.com/va-1x/
Pipistrel is now offering its electric propulsion systems to aircraft designers and manufacturers globally.
The E-811 motor is certified for use in General Aviation by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in May 2020. It is developed for Pipiestral’s Velis electric LSA which was certified by EASA in June 2020 . The E-811 motor combines a liquid-cooled electric motor and a liquid-cooled power controller. Offering 57.6 kW (77 hp) of peak power, and 49.2 kW (66 hp) of maximum continuous power, the E-811 is the ideal powerplant for powered sailplanes, UL, LSA and VLA aircraft, where a Type Certified Engine is required. It may also be installed on Part-23 Level 1 aircraft and other distributed propulsion applications by applying the corresponding special conditions.
June 10, 2020: After years of intensive research and several successful award-winning electric aircraft models developed since 2007, Pipistrel has today achieved a breakthrough feat in aviation history, having type certified the battery powered Velis Electro. Working in tight collaboration with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, whose engagement was essential to reaching this unprecedented milestone.
“The type certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro is the first step towards the commercial use of electric aircraft, which is needed to make emission-free aviation feasible. It is considerably quieter than other aeroplanes and produces no combustion gases at all,” said Mr Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. “It confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible. The engine, which Pipistrel type certified separately, is also available to other aircraft OEMs. For Pipistrel, this achievement injects additional motivation for the future eVTOL and multi‑seat hydrogen-powered projects. Pipistrel is especially thankful to all our customers for their confidence in our products, which allows us to continue developing these innovative aircraft,” he added.
Mr Dominique Roland, Head of the General Aviation Department at EASA, expressed: “For EASA, the type certification of this aircraft marks a significant dual milestone: on 18th of May 2020 we type certified its engine as the first electric engine – now we have followed up with the first type certification of a plane flying that engine. This was a truly ground-breaking project which has yielded many learnings for the future certification of electric engines and aircraft, undoubtedly a growth area in coming years in line with the aims of environmental protection.
“It should also be noted that this innovative product was, despite the many challenging aspects, certified in less than 3 years, showing the excellent work performed by Pipistrel and the EASA teams. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the certification team was composed of EASA staff, but included experts from the Swiss and French authorities, in order to prepare and facilitate the entry into service of the Velis Electro in these two countries.”
Pipistrel will deliver the first 31 Velis Electro to customers in 7 different countries already in 2020. Mr Marc B. Corpataux, the launch customer for the Velis Electro, commented: “AlpinAirPlanes GmbH is very proud to be given the great opportunity by Pipistrel to be part of this game-changing journey. With more than 400 flight hours and 25 pilots introduced to the predecessor Alpha Electro, we are convinced of the suitability of electric flight in the daily flight school environment. Initially, we will distribute 12 aircraft on 10 airfields over Switzerland. Each base will be equipped with 150 m2 of photovoltaic panels, producing electricity for 12,000 flight hours per year on the Velis Electro. We are happy to offer the most environmental friendly training possible.”
The Chinese civil aviation regulator CAAC today released the draft of the new Part 23 certification document. Some highlights include: 1. it has a new section (H section on page 51) for electric airplane which is for the first time in CAAC Part 23 certification rulemaking. 2. rename Part 23 to “normal airplane” consolidating “normal”, “aerobatic”, “utility” and “commuter” category into “normal” in existing Part 23 3.define airplane certification requirement by seat number and performance, not by weight.
the draft download link at CAAC (in Chinese language only): http://www.caac.gov.cn/HDJL/YJZJ/202002/P020200225439412180257.doc
In general the CAAC new part 23 is similar to EASA new Part 23 in many aspects, which is expected. What’s especially interesting is that it’s encouraging to see CAAC is making real rulemaking efforts for electric airplane certification even though the H section in the draft appears to be lack of many important details. CAAC is inviting public opinion on this draft until 26 March 2020.
On September 14 Volocopter made its urban flight debut at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The flight demo was a part of the event “Vision Smart City — Experience future mobility today” held during the weekend. The flight lasted near 4 minutes at about 30 meters altitude. The video of the complete flight from takeoff to landing is below (you may want to turn up the sound volumn to listen to the sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=mH1zk0KOFho
One noticeable thing was the low noise level of Volocopter which claims 65 decibel at 75 meters. This noise level is comparable with small helicopters’ noise level at 500 meters and is about the same as the background road noise in urban environment.