After a solid two years of uninterrupted electric aircraft news, we’re happy to announce that the first single-personal electric aircraft has arrived and electric urban mobility has taken a giant leap forward.
BlackFly Personal eVTOL Officially Introduces Era Of Electric Urban Aircraft Mobility
The world of electric cars has certainly opened a door to creativity and an unbridled enthusiasm for all things electric mobility of the future. But much as the 2008 question on everyone’s mind was whether electric cars should come first or charging stations, the answer was as simple as a first-year Zen Ko’an conundrum: When at a fork, just take it! We needed electric cars and charging stations. However, rolling an electric vehicle (EV) along the ground is one thing, but flying one is another.
Electric aviation startup Opener was smart enough to skip through any hesitations and is proud to present its idea for how an electric aircraft for consumers should look. It should look like the company’s new BlackFly. The BlackFly Personal eVTOL is hailed as the world’s first ultralight, fixed-wing, electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, a single-seat “personal aerial vehicle” (PAV).
The best part is that “anyone” can own and operate a BlackFly Personal eVTOL — there’s no need for formal licensing, at least here in the US.
Opener saw the light of day on Oct 5, 2011, in Warkworth, Ontario, Canada, where the first manned flight of a fixed-wing, all-electric VTOL aircraft took place. Since then, the company has moved to Silicon Valley in California.
Technicalities Of The BlackFly Opener Personal eVTOL
The BlackFly Opener is amphibious and is primarily designed as a small grassy area hopper. It can travel up to 25 miles at 62 mph in the US, or over 80 mph elsewhere.
Using a fixed tandem-wing aircraft design, the BlackFly is considered an “Ultralight” in the US and a “Basic Ultralight” in Canada. It is controlled using a joystick and fly-by-wire electrical controls. The cockpit rests inside an epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber structure. As far as safety, the company went for “triple-modular redundant flight systems.” The drivetrain uses 8 fixed propulsion units with 4 redundant elevon pairs, and a ballistic parachute is optional.
As long as you are not taller than 6’6″ and weigh more than 250 pounds in the US, you should be able to fly the 13’7″ wide by 13’5″ long aircraft, which is also 5 ft high. Weighing in at 313 lbs empty in the US, it can carry a maximum payload of 250 lbs with an 8 kWh battery pack in the US, or 12 kWh for the rest of the world. This gives the BlackFly a maximum static thrust of over 900 lbs, enough to carry one person through the air for such distances under normal operating weather conditions.
Its maximum climb rate and descent are set to 1000 feet per minute. It can take off and land in just 36 inches of space, about 91 centimeters.
Depending on which charging system you have, a slow charge can take up to 7½ hours to 25 minutes if you have a dedicated 240V charger delivering 2×50 amps. Finally, the range with reserve is expected to be 25 miles in the US and over 40 for the rest of the world.
Opener’s long-term vision is to have these eVTOLs integrated into a rural and urban commuting network patch ideally powered by renewable energy.
Director at Opener and former Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google, Alan Eustace, said: “The future of Aviation begins today. The dream of flight, which was so difficult and expensive to obtain, will soon be within the reach of millions. Opener is putting the fun back into flying and opening up a new world of possibilities.”
Darren Pleasance, EAA Board of Directors, was impressed enough to say: “I just saw the future. Watching BlackFly take flight just blew me away. I’ve never seen anything like it. The magnitude of innovation that OPENER has been driving in electric motors, aerodynamics, and VTOL operations is stunning and inspiring. OPENER has made a huge step forward in bringing the Jetson’s world to life.”
The closest competition the BlackFly would have would be the Kitty Hawk project. However, the project hasn’t yet materialized into anything commercially available. Another close competitor would be the Workhorse SureFly.
We’re excited to hear Marcus Leng, CEO of Opener, saying: “OPENER is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation. We will offer competitive pricing in an endeavor to democratize three-dimensional personal transportation. Safety has been our primary driving goal in the development of this new technology. OPENER will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner. Even though not required by FAA regulations, BlackFly operators will be required to successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training.”
To date, it has flown 12,000+ miles flown with 1,400+ flights, so don’t miss the BlackFly OPENER Personal eVTOL if you are at at the 2018 EAA AirVenture Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, from July 23 to July 29, 2018.