Published on November 15th, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart0
CleanTechnica Electric Air Mobility Roundup
November 15th, 2019 by Nicolas Zart
Another week, another round of electric air mobility news, urban air mobility (UAM), and more green aviation.
AutoFlightX Will Soon Fly
AutoFlightX and Dr. Matthias Bittner prepare to help electric aircraft pioneer Tian Yu take off with an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft targeted at air taxi service. AutoFlightX’s vision is to provide an aerial mobility solution for everybody, not necessarily a high-quality premium product. And that’s fresh news in a world dominated with “luxury” and/or “premium” products and services.
The startup unveiled the fully electric V600 at the AERO Friedrichshafen eFlight Expo, where we hope to be in March of next year. Why V600? Because it aims to lift 600 kg (1,323 lb) as per the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA’s) ultralight aircraft limit. And guess what the next ones will be? V900 or V1400, 2,000 to 3,000 lb (900 to 1,360 kg), is my guess.
They are working on a 3 to 4 passenger aircraft, depending on whether it is autonomous or not.
E-Aircraft System (EAS) Continuing E-Fan’s Legacy
Things have changed at Airbus since the end of the e-Fan. The Vahana is now flying and the European aircraft manufacturer is now building a 3,000+ square meter facility dedicated exclusively to alternative propulsion systems and fuels in Europe. Can you say the big boys are serious about electric UAM?
According to Martin Nüsseler, Head of E-Aircraft Systems: “[EAS House] is where we put the engines through their paces. We can test everything from electric motors for unmanned flying taxis to hybrid-electric engines for the commercial aircraft of the future.”
The €50 million investment will develop expertise on alternative propulsion technology for the first generation of zero-emission commercial aircraft that Airbus estimates will take launch in the 2030s. Airbus might also surprise a few by bringing back its the E-Fan X project. Rolls Royce will deliver the electric motor – ex-e-Siemens – to replace 1 of the 4 gas turbines installed on the BAe 146 test aircraft. Each electric motor will put out about 2 MW of power.
Rolls-Royce Electric Motors
Speaking of Rolls-Royce, it is working with APUS on its i-5 aircraft to develop a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator based on its hybrid M250 propulsion system. It’s a 4000 kg conventional take-off and landing flight test vehicle used to test distributed electric propulsion. The company is also working on eVTOL aircraft, general aviation aircraft, and hybrid helicopters in the future. Rolls-Royce says it has already ground tested a hybrid version of the M250 gas turbine in series hybrid, parallel hybrid, and turbo-electric operating modes. The M250 hybrid is planned to be used as a propulsion plant with power ranging from 500 kW to 1 MW.
UKRI Says It’s Happy With Challenge Response
Backed by the UK government, and aimed at supporting the development of technologies in urban air mobility, including eVTOL platforms, it has a range of other focuses, including drones and hybrid-electric regional aircraft. The program will provide a number of funding opportunities to companies in the space. It is backed by £125 million from the U.K. government and expects a further £175 million in finance from industry sources. UKRI, which is overseeing the Future Flight Challenge, is an independent body that is principally funded by the British government.
XTI Finds Funds in China
XTI Aircraft announced it has a draft agreement signed for the formation of a joint venture in China, according to eVTOL.com. The deal could lead to the assembly and support of the TriFan 600 aircraft in the Guizhou Province, China. XTI also announced it received a utility patent from the Japanese Patent Office for the technology and configuration of the company’s TriFan 600 vertical takeoff airplane.
We met with the XTI Aircraft team at the NBAA in Las Vegas. I was impressed with the technology and how freaking cool the aircraft looks.
Uber Elevates Even More
The first test site for Uber Elevate is officially in Frisco, Texas. The Frisco Station Vertipad was built to be larger than most helipads and designed to handle more than a regular helicopter. Check out more here:
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