The market for eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing), also known as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), is expected to continue growing this decade. This emerging industry is gearing up for commercial launches in various places around the world. A Korean startup PLANA Aero is determined to become one of the leading representatives of AAM in South Korea but is also eyeing the U.S. market.
Founded by Braden J. Kim, who led the original Hyundai Urban Air Mobility development program, the company now announced that it has established its U.S. branches in Silicon Valley and Irvine, California. These offices have been opened to facilitate the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process of its AAM aircraft, as well as, more broadly, helping the firm to expand into the global markets. PLANA will also continue to partner with other U.S.-based companies to expand the ecosystem for its AAM aircraft.
FAA certification is a process that verifies the airworthiness of the aircraft design and all component parts (including propellers, engines, control stations, etc. The eVTOL aircraft are also required to meet the safety standards applicable to large transport-class aircraft in the U.S.
“FAA certification is one of the most important processes for companies in the aerospace industry,” said Braden J. Kim, CEO of PLANA. “With the establishment of the U.S. subsidiary, we plan to increase our interactions in the newly created AAM market as well as FAA certification.”
PLANA is developing an aircraft that uses SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) in its turbogenerator-based serial hybrid powertrain. The air taxi can carry between four to six passengers over 500 km (310 miles) at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph). The company says the aircraft could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 80% compared to existing helicopters through the use of SAF.
Last month, PLANA Aero displayed a scaled-down prototype of its HeVTOL that is 1/5 the size of an actual aircraft at the 2023 Drone Show Korea. Currently, the company is conducting test flights and verification of a HeVTOL.
It also plans to participate in the Grand Challenge (K-UAM) demonstration project conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. The first phase of this large-scale program is planned to unfold during the second half of this year.