Here’s the third electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft officially recognized as an ultralight vehicle by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Welcome the HoverSurf Hoverbike S3 to the growing family of eVTOL aircraft.
A Growing Family Of Ultralight eVTOL Aircraft Is Forming
The third official ultralight eVTOL aircraft, the HoverSurf Hoverbike S3, received its Part 103 ultralight certification (PDF), at the end of September (hat tip to our friends at eVTOLNews). The HoverSurf press release states: “Hoversurf just became an approved personal Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft,” but there was a bit of a controversy with that claim. The FAA does not approve aircraft for Part 103.
Apparently, “WORLD’s FIRST No pilot LICENCE, No aircraft CERTIFICATION official approved personal drone HOVERBIKE S3 2019″ really irked the FAA. Officially, the FAA determines whether an aircraft, such as the Hoversurf model, meets the aviation § 103.1(a), (c), and (e) requirements. The Hoverbike S3 does, so take that to mean it’s been approved if you like, but don’t go too far with the claim if you don’t want to upset the FAA. eVTOLNews posted the FAA letter.
Budding Electric Aviation, A New Take On Avoiding Traffic
HoverBike rests on a carbon fiber monocoque, which it estimates slashed the weight in half compared to Hoversurf’s earlier aluminum model.
At 253 lb (114 kg), the Hoverbike is also thin enough to go through a standard doorway.
A sticky point is that Hoversurf submitted the review under the name “Hoverbike S3” and was planning to market it as the “Hover One.” To complicate things further, it was originally named “Hoversurf Scorpion-3,” or (S3).
Hoversurf follows the Kitty Hawk Flyer and the Opener BlackFly, both of which previously began operations in compliance with Part 103. While this might seem like a minor legal matter and semantics, it is an important part of the classification of these new areal electric vehicles. They need to smoothly integrate into existing air traffic. And the space is constantly evolving. For broader perspective, you can read more about how Airbus sees the use of our airspace evolving (from the 0–70,000 ft or 21,300 meter altitude).
The HoverBike S3 uses LiNiMnCoO2 (Lithium manganese nickel) for a “hybrid” battery approach. This offers a high level fo safety and low resistance of manganese due to the high energy of nickel.
What surprised me is the relatively small battery pack, which is 12.3 kWh. While small on paper, the battery pack gives the HoverBike S3 40 minutes of autonomy in drone mode. That comes down to 10 to 25 minutes dependent on the weight of the pilot and weather conditions. The Hoverbike can be charged in 2½ hours without removing the batteries.
Its 3-bladed carbon propellers have shown to be quieter by 10% than regular double-bladed propellers. Overall, they are smaller in diameter by 5 cm and give a total thrust of 364 kg (802 pounds).
How much is the beast? The Hoverbike S3 2019 limited edition will cost $150,000 and requires a $10,000 reservation deposit for an estimated delivery of 2 to 6 months.
eVTOL Aircraft Are Going Up, Up, & Away!
We are happy to see HoverSurf officializing its Hoverbike S3 and welcome its much-awaited arrival. The FAA has its plate full as it sorts out the various electric aircraft configurations about to pop up in our skies. It’s good to see another electric one get approved — er, comply with Part 103 regulations.