Today, we are on the verge of the flying taxi revolution, with many eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) startups predicting the future. They are working on their own models, offering just 2-5 seats. However, some companies, such as Lilium, proposed a whopping 7-seat air minibus design.
One of such startups is Kelekona, which is developing a mass transport-sized eVTOL airbus concept capable of carrying 40 people long distances. The eVTOL aircraft is based on a blended wing, or lifting body, airframe concept.
The Aerobus concept from the New York City startup is designed to carry 40 passengers plus pilot or 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) cargo payload. The company declares on its website that its new design will be able to make the 330 miles (531 km) journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just one hour.
It will have a special design of a wide hull, which will be flat at the bottom and rounded at the top. This eliminates the need for giant wings, unlike other heavyweight eVTOLs. The model has got a chunky, flat, wide-body with a mild teardrop shape to its side profile that narrows in the direction of the tail – this provides a huge lifting surface. The aircraft will rise off the ground in VTOL operations using four banks of two large, ducted fans with variable pitch blades. Once at the right altitude, these fans adjust to provide enough lift for efficient forward flight.
According to experts, such a large ship must have powerful batteries to ensure long-term flight. Kelekona plans to place the batteries for a few megawatt-hours under the floor and make them easily replaceable so that they can be quickly removed and charged for its next flight.
The closest concept to that of Kelekona is the Skybus aircraft developed by GKN Aerospace, which has a proposed capacity of 30 to 50 passengers for intra-city journeys. Unlike the Kelekona design, the Skybus plane has two massive wings – which undoubtedly makes it difficult to find a place to land within a city.