AIR moves forward with US Air Force AFWERX programme
AIR has moved on to the next stage of its US Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime Program, continuing the joint R&D of its eVTOL aircraft.
Following acceptance into the programme last year, the Israel-founded company had to complete Agility Prime’s third phase before it could enter into the recently announced formal agreement with AFWERX. In this phase, AIR will conduct full-scale prototype flight testing and provide AFWERX with critical data on all aspects of its platform.
“AIR hopes this phase will mark the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Agility Prime, propelling AIR’s US presence for both flight testing and aircraft production,” AIR CEO Rani Plaut told us. “It’s thrilling AFWERX understands the unique promise of AIR ONE, which is capable of ranges and speeds that far exceed AOI-2 requirements. Joining Agility Prime’s portfolio offers AIR key validation of our technology and relevance in the eVTOL domain.”
The firm is also scouting several locations to build out its US presence and continue flight testing. Plaut explained: “All of AIR’s major activities – flight testing, manufacturing, and headquarters – are oriented to the US market and will be done on US soil. We are currently scouting sites for flight testing, as well as production facilities.”
The partnership with AFWERX will drive development and certification efforts. Particularly the flight testing data which AFWERX can use to determine the viability of AIR’s aircraft for use in Air Force logistics. AIR is targeting an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying 1-2 people more than 10 miles at a speed of at least 45mph. Capable of taking off and landing on any flat surface with a 250kg payload, the all-electric AIR One aircraft can fly at speeds up to 155 mph, gaining lift from eight fixed motors.
“AIR’s primary product is a GA aircraft for personal use, but cargo and other applications (manned and unmanned) have always been optional use cases due to the AIR ONE’s range and payload capabilities,” said Plaut.
John Tekell Agility Prime Branch Chief added: “Agility Prime analytics predict lower operations and maintenance costs of eVTOL aircraft through mechanical simplicity. The successful transition to forward flight from a VTOL mode with fixed motors highlights the ingenuity of small businesses in achieving mechanically simple designs.”
AIR recently signed a deal for a logistics application and will start deliveries with the first platform becoming operational as early as January 2024, Plaut told us. It also aims to start flight testing under Agility Prime and to continue setting up major company operations in the US in the first half of the new year.