Ryse Aero Technologies completes first manned test flight


Having just completed its first manned test flight, Ohio-based startup Ryse Aero Technologies is well on its way to building an eVTOL designed to assist farm operations. Named the Recon, the aircraft can be flown without a pilot’s license.

The Recon is a single-rider, six blade aerial vehicle that operates more like a drone or helicopter than a conventional ultralight.

Mick Kowitz, founder and CEO, Ryse Aero said: “I’m a technologist by nature, I’m also a private pilot.” When working out how best to enter the eVTOL market discussion turned to agriculture and the wide use of all-terrain vehicles to get to remote places or travel around farms and ranches, said Kowitz.

“An ultralight is generally a sports and recreation class vehicle,” said Kowitz. “We started looking at who would be a great early adopter for this technology. I have good friends that are farmers with large farms and they’re like the perfect market for this.” Farmers have long been the first to take on new tech including GPS, automation, and autonomy, said Kowitz.

Powered by six electric motors, the carbon-blade propellers spin at 2,000 rpm. Kowitz also said the Recon is easy to fly, with as little as 45 minutes of training a user can be in the air.

There are safety systems and the controls for this airship are “drone like” in the ability to hover and rotate as easily as a helicopter. A main screen between two joysticks is what constitutes the operator platform.

“We have an AI system on board, almost like a supercomputer, for controls,” Kowitz said. That AI system works to keep the machine steady when hovering even in winds has high as 25 mph. “As for safety systems, if a pilot feels they’re in a little trouble, just manoeuvre to a safe place to set down and hit ‘land now’ and the machine will lower to the ground providing a level landing.”

The six electric rotors use removable battery packs that can be taken out for charging. “The removable battery pack design makes it easy to charge, but it also means in the future if there are new battery technologies they could be added with upgraded packs,” said Kowitz.

In addition, those removable packs can boost range. The machine will run for about 25 minutes on a charge with a top speed of 63 mph.

The machine is outfitted with equipment approved by the FAA. In addition, the airship uses optical LIDAR for laser-based obstacle avoidance. This is not an autopilot system, the operator is always in control, but these added systems add to the safety of the design.

The Recon floats too said Howitz. “The limit for an ultralight is 255lbs empty, but if you fly on land and water you can add weight. We’re at 285lbs.”

Production will start in 2023 with 100 machines that will mostly be hand built, according to Ryse Aero. “Our goal is to build 1,000 in 2024,” said Howitz.