Revolution.Aero Uplift: In the AIR to flight
If the eVTOL spectrum goes from air taxi to a one-person craft, then the AIR ONE is bang in the middle. The 866kg design is the self-proclaimed “private car” of the eVTOL market.
If you imagine a scale, Rani Plaut, CEO and co-founder, AIR tells Revolution.Aero: “On the left side are the e-scooters or e-bicycles of this world like the Jetson or the Opener BlackFly. They are small aircraft that do not require certification or a pilot’s licence, but they are limited to 115kg.”
Whilst these are great instruments, they are limited, says Plaut. “For example, you can never travel into densely populated or urban areas.”
If you look to the other side of the scale, there are the medium and large size eVTOLs, such as EHang, Volocopter and Lilium. “All of these are going after commercial domain – Part 135. The common name being air taxi. This will require commercial pilot’s licencing which is hundreds of hours by definition.”
Plaut says AIR ONE is right in the middle. “Based on our patent we have long-range, simple design, and a unique flight control system. We have now sold over 150 units via pre-ordering just to private individuals. Over 100 in the US, two or three in the UK, a few in Norway and Australia and over 15 in Israel.” The AIR ONE’s range is purported to be anywhere between 62-100miles (100-160km) with a max flight time of one hour. It holds two passengers or a payload of 440lbs.
Plaut says AIR is on schedule for first deliveries in 2024. The company flew its first concept back in 2017 and has just completed its first series of hover flights in a full-size prototype. On June 21st, the prototype took flight in Megiddo, northern Israel. It completed multiple hovers over the following two weeks – lifting off, hovering in place and returning to the ground.
The firm is aiming for certification in late 2023, under the FAA type certification for very light airplanes – FAR 21.17(b). It says it will have a full-scale manned prototype flying later this year.
Plaut says: “I get asked: ’Have you solved the congestion problem?’ And my joke answer is: ‘I have for the guy who buys it.’ We live in an era where there is no single solution. In order to remove congestion in Israel or the US you need to remove between 7% and 9% of the cars. So, we are part of this drive to remove cars from the road.”
AIR recognises it is a small company and even if it sells 10,000 units per year, which would be a brilliant performance, that is only going to have a marginal impact, says Plaut. “But I think the aggregated impact of all the alternatives will assist tremendously in helping our planet.”