Revolution.Aero Uplift: Jetson (Episode) One
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”. Well, chances are, you know the rest. But did you know Star Wars-esque technology is flying in our galaxy today?
Part-inspired by the craft in which Anakin and Luke Skywalker sped across the desert planet of Tatooine, Jetson Aero’s Jetson ONE eVTOL is in flight. In fact, the company’s co-founder, Tomasz Patan (pictured below) has just completed his first commute to work in it. Although the journey time was just 4minutes 50seconds and the route through a remote, countryside environment, the flight cut 90% off his normal journey time by car on public roads.
“The feeling when you fly is absolutely amazing. It’s almost like teleportation because you simply choose a point on the horizon and a few seconds later you’re there. It is like Star Wars, I feel somewhat like Anakin Skywalker when I fly in it,” Patan tells Revolution.Aero.
Long-inspired by science fiction movies, as a child Patan had dreamt about building his own personal flying vehicle. Starting with model remote control airplanes and helicopters, he then built his own aerial videography company. As the drones he used became larger, Patan thought “maybe I can just scale it up and I could fly too”. When co-founder and friend, Peter Ternström rang Patan with the same idea, Jetson Aero was born.
Weighing 40kg (190lbs), Jetson ONE has a max flight time of 20 minutes providing around 40km (24.8miles) of range. FAA rules state that because the eVTOL weighs under 250lbs (113.9kg) and flies slower than 55nmph, no pilot’s licence is required to fly it.
“This is the beauty of Jetson ONE, because it is so lightweight it does not require certifications and was designed in line with FAA Part 103,” says Patan.
In theory, this means you can just get in the ONE and fly away, although Jetson does not advise this. The firm provides a day of flight training to customers, who complete assembly of the aircraft themselves. It would also be worth completing a two-day course on airspace restrictions. Under FAA rules this type of aircraft is not permitted to fly near airports or densely populated areas, says the company.
The aircraft’s flight computer is equipped with a Lidar sensor system that performs terrain tracking and obstacle avoidance to steer clear of power lines, trees and buildings. It also comes fitted with an auto-landing system. Jetson says the eVTOL is capable of flying safely, even if one of its eight motors fails. There’s also a ballistic parachute as a last resort.
“We did a lot of flights before, but this was the first commute from my place to the office. There are regulations in place: You can’t fly Jetson ONE in densely populated, congested areas, but if your office is located remotely, then I don’t see why it couldn’t be used to commute,” says Patan.
Jetson has dedicated this year to flight testing, production will start from early 2023. “The design is, I would say, 95% locked right now. By the end of the year, we will lock it to be prepared for manufacturing next year.” For example, Jetson is developing the ONE’s design to include new batteries which will up all-round efficiency by 7%, says Patan.
There are various eVTOL developers with flying prototypes who are targeting entry into service in the near future, but Jetson looks like the most viable right now (not least because of the certification process).
“Our mission is to democratise flight and make our cities a better place to live by moving the traffic up to the skies. That’s the vision for the company,” says Patan. “We do have a plan in the pipeline to solve the transportation issue which will be used as an air taxi. But our plan right now is to learn from Jetson ONE, analysing the data collected and be ready for when regulations are in place – in about three years from now.”
There are just three slots left available out of 189 chassis planned for production in 2023. A Jetson ONE will set you back $92,000 (including a $20,000 deposit). That is considerably more than the 2,000 Galactic Credits (about $8,000) Skywalker got for his second-hand speeder in the 1977 movie A New Hope. Although, when inflation is taken into account (about $38,500) it works out almost half-price. Now that makes sense – if the used car market is anything to go by.