There is just not enough time to keep up with urban air mobility (UAM) news these days. Keeping up with the stories is almost impossible. So, here is a roundup of exciting electric UAM news.
MAEAM concept “B.koya”
I won’t try to pronounce this name, but the French aviation startup Multi Access Electric Air Mobility (MAEAM), a sister company to light aircraft designer Lisa Airplanes, has announced a cool 19-seat hybrid-electric aircraft called B.koya. It is aiming the aircraft at regional charter or airline service.
According to Arabian Aerospace founder and chief executive Benoit Senellart, “It’s the same technology as proven on our two-seater… We want to have this aircraft built by 2022 and to be on the commuter airline market by 2024. It opens a new segment of market. Inner-city urban air mobility has a lot of people looking at it – but few in the regional market. And its landing capabilities are very different.”
The B.koya will use a turbine/electric propulsion system with twin tail-mounted propellers. It will be good for a 125 kt (232 km/h or 144 mph) cruising speed, with a 162 nm (300 km or 186 mile) range on batteries only. The range goes up to 1,620 nm (3,000 kilometers or 1,864 miles) using the turbine. With a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 4,000 kg, we’re told it can land on grass with only 1,000 feet (325 m) of runway. It will be available with hydrofoils for water landings and optional skis for snow landings.
Volocopter Getting Ready To Kick Into Production Gear
If there is a UAM aviation startup that wasted no time in the past few years, it is Volocopter. After successful demonstration of its multi-rotor eVTOL aircraft, it is now getting ready for production.
eVTOL.news reported in August that the company had closed a series of funding rounds for its newest air taxi model, the VoloCity. The Series C funding round was led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. And now, FlightGlobal says it is ready to produce the 18-rotor eVTOL VoloCity, which is scheduled to make its first flight within 18 months. The company will fly the VoloCopter from its VoloPorts – Skyports, for the rest of the industry. According to BusinessTimes, UK-based Skyports will show its eVTOL base at Marina Bay, Singapore, at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress from October 21–25. It will showcase the Volocopter for a demonstration flight.
Cheers, Volocopter. We look forward to covering your evolution from startup status to becoming a full-fledged aviation company.
SolarStratos Keeps Flying on Pure Sunshine
Here’s another company I haven’t covered as much as I wish. SolarStratos is almost ready to fly again. Its fuselage has optimized been recently with a new trim. Its electrical circuit lost weight and the new wings are being assembled as I write this. Its new 170 cm propeller is better suited to high-altitude flights with better propulsion.
Raphaël Domjan, who will pilot the SolarStratos, said: “The whole technical team has worked very hard, everyone has been extremely positive and supportive.” The solar aircraft will soon be handed over to test pilots Damian Hischier and Miguel Iturmendi.
Dassault Systèmes Jumps Into the eVTOL Noise Debate
Informed and uninformed comments pour in whenever we touch on future technology. Sometimes they are spot on, other times they are off the mark. eVTOL.com produced a terrific article pertaining to the future sound eVTOLs will make, and it all boils down to how simulators are treating the topic.
Simulators can save time, cut down on pollution, and reduce risks if used properly. Besides training pilots, they help tweak aircraft design, lower maintenance, and optimize air traffic management. We previously reported on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience Lab, where I had the pleasure to talk to the team. The topic is so big that we barely scratched the surface of simulators. We do know that almost all vehicles, including aircraft, are currently developed in a simulator. I’ve been told Boeing’s next aircraft is in the hands of Dassault’s simulation lab, as are many others.
The company’s new Simulia focuses on the potential for its Simulia PowerFLOW in the design of air taxis and other eVTOL aircraft. It predicts the aeroacoustics of an aircraft and its rotors to better understand how noise is generated and how it propagates inside and outside.
Boeing & Safran Announce Joint Investment in Energy Storage Specialist Electric Power Systems
In another AIN report, its’ noted that Electric Power Systems (EPS) recently went through a Series A round with Boeing & Safran. This is great news for the electric aviation industry, as the Utah-based EPS company will develop a highly automated industrial plant producing aviation-grade batteries very quickly. This is also supposed to reduce the cost of batteries.
Embraer Continues to Develop its eVTOL Platform
Meanwhile, AVWeb announced that Embraer tested its first autonomous aircraft in Brazil, presumably for its eVTOL aircraft. The company tells us that its integrated artificial intelligence system is “capable of acting independently on acceleration, steering and braking.”
Embraer is part of the Uber Elevate project that expects to start eVTOL service in Los Angeles, USA, Dallas, USA, and Melbourne, Australia, as early as 2023. Its eVTOL configurator brings you along an eVTOL aircraft design series to find out which one is best suited to your needs.
If air traffic management (ATM) has got you confused, you’re not the only one. To close out this roundup, this Airbus video is an excellent primer: