China-based AutoFlight has released footage of a milestone flight test for its Prosperity I eVTOL air taxi.
The eVTOL developer completed its proof-of-concept transition flight test last month, in which the aircraft switches from vertical take-off to horizontal flight and then back to vertical flight before landing.
The video starts by describing the technology behind the aircraft before showing the actual flight test footage with sound, which starts at around 1:55 in the video.
The transition flight test showed eight rotors lifting the 3,307-pound (1,500-kilogram) aircraft into the air. When the aircraft reached an altitude of 150 meters (492 feet) and an airspeed of 100 to 110 miles per hour (161 to 177 kilometers per hour), the fixed wing of the eVTOL aircraft generated lift.
To prepare for the transition, the rotors on top of the aircraft stopped spinning and locked in a streamlined position, while the propellers in the rear pushed the aircraft forward like a traditional fixed-wing plane. During the flight test, the aircraft flew at speeds of up to 123 mph (198 km/h) before returning to vertical flight and landing.
The unmanned flight took place at the company’s flight test facility in Jiangsu province, China, with AutoFlight’s CEO and around 40 staff members witnessing the flight.
“The team and I are thrilled to have cracked the smooth transition phase of eVTOL flight, unlocking the skies for Prosperity I and our commercial products,” said Tian Yu, AutoFlight’s CEO. “We are confident we have a good design underpinned by sound engineering, and we are delighted to see that the transition was smooth, safe, and seamless.”
AutoFlight’s lift-plus-cruise aircraft is targeting a range of 155 mi (250 km) and a cruise speed of 125 mph (200 km/h), with three passengers and a pilot onboard. AutoFlight is aiming to receive type certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and begin passenger services by 2025.
To achieve this target, last month, the company announced plans to accelerate its certification program by establishing a research and development and certification center in Germany that would be led by former Airbus Helicopters manager Mark Henning. AutoFlight had secured $100 million in funding from Berlin tech holding company Team Global in November, earmarked for international expansion and scaling cargo eVTOL production.
The Textron Osprey has been doing this for years albeit a manned platform. While it’s an achievement they have demonstrated it borders on a high school science fair. I saw no tracking antennas in the mix and using a laptop on the tarmac is hardly aviation quality. The control center depicted was very basic and indicated they really are approaching this more from a let’s fly operation to true flight test.
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