I noticed a flurry of videos recently showing test flights of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. The three vehicles spotlighted below have sizable wings to enable longer range flights compared to eVTOL models intended for intra-city hops. Note that “longer” refers to a 100-250 km range. So they are applicable to inter-city transport only for relatively nearby cities.
I’ve followed eVTOL development here for many years. With a number of companies well into the certification process in the US and Europe, it now seems safe to say that there will be commercial flights underway by 2025. So the next great hurdle will be proving that eVTOLS, handicapped by the performance limitations of current battery technologies, can find sustainable markets for passenger services and private ownership.
Advantages include very low maintenance and energy costs compared to conventional aircraft. Small foot-print “vertiports” close to passengers’ final destinations will be attractive, assuming regulatory hurdles and NIMBY resistance can be overcome. Note that the eVTOL companies claim the noise from their vehicles is far less than the racket produced by helicopters.
Watch as Phoenix 2, our 5th Generation all-electric Technology Demonstrator plane, achieves main wing transition – the first time a full-size electric jet aircraft has ever made the transition from hover to wing-borne flight. Although a landmark moment for electric aviation, it’s only one small step for Lilium towards achieving our mission to transform regional air mobility. Next steps are to continue the Flight Test campaign and expand the flight envelope further, including transition of the forward canards and high-speed flights. We look forward to sharing more progress soon.
- Pilot + 6 passengers
- 250 km range
- 300km/h max speed
- Lilium Achieves Main Wing Transition – Lilium
- Lilium’s Battery Strategy: Performance at Scale – Lilium
We’re excited to unveil the premiere video of our VoloConnect prototype flight. Within just 17 months, this fixed-wing, 100% electric aircraft was built by our team to take to the skies and kickoff its prototype test phase. This short video encompasses the “first hop” and the first tests Volocopter’s done with this electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. As the name implies, VoloConnect can both take off and land vertically as well as show efficient forward flight with its design. At Volocopter, we’re designing our aircraft to address different “missions” (i.e., mobility purposes). With this in mind, it naturally makes sense to offer a family of aircraft that serve the diverse mobility needs. Differing from our other multicopter eVTOL designs for the VoloCity and VoloDrone, the VoloConnect is a lift-and-cruise design that serves a unique and complementary mission for urban mobility – connecting the city with the suburbs in one swift, smooth, and emission-free flight.
- 4 seats
- 100 km range
- 250 km/h max speed
- 180 km/h cruise speed
- Volocopter’s 4-Seater Aircraft Takes First Flight – Volocopter
- Volocopter’s four-seat eVTOL air taxi completes first flights – DroneDJ
In the latest design, new optimized lifting propellers allow for a higher hover efficiency, while the two pushing propellors that were previously on either side of the air taxi have been replaced with one center propellor with twin motors to enhance cruising abilities. The latest design of Prosperity I is very close to the final design which will be released later this year.
- 3 passengers
- 250 km range
- 200 km/h cruising speed
- Certification target date: 2025
- AutoFlight Announces Prosperity I Full Test Flight Video | Autoflight
- AutoFlight releases video of updated Prosperity I eVTOL air taxi – DroneDJ
** Other eVTOL news:
- Overair gets $145 million funding to develop itsButterfly eVTOL – DroneDJ
- Partnership of global aviation and airport leaders to accelerate introduction of eVTOL operations in Brazil – Vertical Aerospace (pdf)
- Joby Receives Part 135 Certification from the FAA | Joby
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