Published on October 27th, 2017 | by Nicolas Zart0
XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 Picks Up Interest & Preorders
October 27th, 2017 by Nicolas Zart
The XTI Aircraft VTOL TriFan 600
According to Flying Magazine, XTI’s VTOL TriFan 600 picked up numerous preorders at the latest NBAA-BACE show in Las Vegas. The ambitious project has attracted a growing stream of potential buyers after the success it gathered at the Paris Air Show this year, where XTI showcased its intriguing hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft.
The Denver-based startup XTI’s CEO, Robert LaBelle, was quoted saying: “We’re pleased with the strong interest that we received at NBAA’s 2017 Business Aviation Convention. These are serious buyers who reserved a priority number for the eventual commercial production of the TriFan 600. We’re focused on that goal.”
The company announced three aircraft reservation deposit agreements for its TriFan 600 at the Paris Air Show in June, and more preorders were taken at NBAA-BACE, but the number pulled in is still unknown.
XTI Aircraft is now particularly focusing on the Indian market. Rajiv Luthra became the first TriFan investor from the country and reserved a priority number for the eventual commercial product.
XTI Aircraft is spearheaded by David Brody, Founder & Chairman of XTI Aircraft, and CEO Robert LaBelle, both of whom have extensive experience in the aviation field. LaBelle also served as President of the AgustaWestland Tiltrotor Company and worked on the AW 609 Tiltrotor.
XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 Technicalities
The TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft will use ducted fans to power this unique business aircraft. It will use a hybrid-electric propulsion system that propels it at a maximum cruising speed of 300 knots (or 345 mph) in just 11 minutes. The maximum cruising altitude will be 29,000 feet. It will seat 5 passengers and a pilot in what the company calls “business class comfort.” Its range is estimated at 1,200 NM.
Using a fly-by-wire system, the TriFan 600 has a maximum take-off load of 2,404 kg (5,300 lb) and a maximum short takeoff weight of 2,858 kg (6,300 lb). Its empty weight is 1,588 kg (3,500 lb). This “feather weight” is achieved by using carbon fiber and epoxy.
By using three propellers, two tilting ducted fans sit on the front part of the wings for vertical and forward flight, and the other fan rests in the rear part fuselage and takes care of the vertical lift. The TriFan 600 will use a 1,100 hp turbine driving the dual electric motors. Each propeller has two 250 kW electric motors that provide a 1.30 thrust factor.
Departing from its original plan, the company switched to a hybrid-electric propulsion system that replaces its original twin turboshaft engines, gearboxes, and driveshafts. XTI Aircraft found the turbine-driven generator, battery, and motor platform reduces the purchase price while slashing operating costs all while providing similar performance, according to LaBelle. The hybrid system was developed by electric propulsion specialist Bye Aerospace, also an innovator in the electric and solar aviation field.
Bye Aerospace is currently developing medium- and high-altitude long-endurance UAVs that focus on efficiency. You might not be too surprised to find out that Bye Aerospace is closely related to other players in this industry as well. It is an affiliate of Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. (AEAC), a company we’ve written about a couple of times since it is developing the two-seat electric Sun Flyer 2 and four-seat Sun Flyer 4 — training and pilot-owner aircrafts. It is also affiliated with Silent Falcon™ UAS Technologies, a company that is developing a technologically advanced solar-electric small Unmanned Aircraft System. It’s a small world and tight-knit family.
XTI Aircraft is currently on a Reg A+ equity crowdfunding campaign you can follow and be part of on StartEngine. The campaign accepts accredited and non-accredited investors, as well as a Series B option for accredited investors. With a minimum sale of 40 to 100 TriFan 600s, each would be priced at $6–8 million, making them competitive in the business chartered jet industry.
If you happen to leave near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, XTI will showcase its TriFan 600 at the Lauderdale International Boat Show from November 1–5, 2017.
Making Sense of the XT Aircraft TriFan 600
What the TriFan 600 aircraft aims for is short city-to-city business jet trips with a VTOL capacity. This will enable it to fly directly in and out of city centers, something only helicopters can do now. By offering the possibility of flying directly from point A to point B, it will not only compete with major airlines but also the private business jet industry and rail, wherever available.
The business model is similar to other VTOLs we’ve covered here, as well as flying taxi concepts. VTOLs also offer the potential of bypassing impersonal giant airport hubs, taking their clientele directly from their residence or workplace into the heart of cities or their final destination. Considering airports are usually far away from downtown centers, they often necessitate considerably further transportation, something VTOL can resolve.
Curious for more about this sector? Check out the interesting evolution of VTOLs.
The promise of VTOLs is undeniably appealing, as they could reduce ground congestion and leapfrog our aging infrastructure (something that needs revamping for the impending autonomous driving force). The XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 seems to be one of the furthest ahead, but it’s a hard market to judge at this point with a close family of engineers and visionaries trying to push their VOTLs to victory.