Electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft are considered by many to be the future of civil, private, and military aviation. Based on electric propulsion, this technology makes it possible to develop air mobility and open up the possibilities for exploiting this new space (flying taxis, deliveries, etc.).
However, for air taxis to gain public approval amidst this environment of increased scrutiny, regulators and manufacturers will have to convince the public they are safe – both for passengers and those on the ground.
The Canadian company Horizon Aircraft says the early eVTOL passenger models used in commercial operations should have safety records equal to those in the commercial aviation sector to prevent accidents and fatalities. According to the company, the global spotlight on the first air taxis will be sufficiently intense that any accidents and safety risks would set the industry back years in terms of passenger confidence and regulatory approval.
The startup has developed the Cavorite X5, the world’s first eVTOL aircraft that can fly the majority of its mission exactly like a normal aircraft. The startup wanted to make a useful aircraft that could do the work of a helicopter but could be faster, more efficient, and safer.
The Horizon Aircraft Cavorite X5 is fundamentally a normal aircraft with an additional eVTOL capability that adds safety and operational capability. It flies 98% of its mission in a configuration exactly like a normal aircraft, meaning discussions surrounding certification can start from a well-understood baseline, which greatly reduces risk during the process.
“There is much debate around the safety requirements of eVTOL aircraft, with some commentators, for example, saying they should be twice as safe as driving a car or have safety records on a par with helicopters,” said Brandon Robinson, CEO, and Co-Founder of Horizon Aircraft. “The safety bar must be set much higher so that potential passengers, regulators, and other stakeholders have the highest possible levels of confidence in the first eVTOL aircraft. This is essential to the sector reaching its full potential.“
The Cavorite X5 is a sleek modern, designed five-passenger aircraft with a cruise speed of 215 mph (350 km/h) and has a range of 310 miles (500 km). It is powered by a gas engine, which makes the power for its electric motors for VTOL and forwards flight. The aircraft can fly more than 625 miles (1000 km) with no passengers or cargo.
The company is now working on a 1:6 scale version, on which it will begin testing its systems and software, and then plans to build a half-scale machine built in the next 12 months. Scheduled for production by 2024, the start-up hopes to be able to begin its first test phases in 2021.