Ft. Worth, Texas-based ASTRO Aerospace announced on May 8th that it had acquired Passenger Drone, which had made manned flights last year of its two-seat 16-propeller wingless eVTOL aircraft, now dubbed the AA360. [Note: the company renamed the aircraft “Elroy” in four months later.] In June, ASTRO announced that it had forged a partnership with composite manufacturer Paterson Composites: “Specializing in carbon fiber, Paterson Composites will work with ASTRO Aerospace to construct the entire airframe of the Passenger Drone including the cockpit, frame, and propeller blades.”
A³ Vahana eVTOL Tiltwing Advanced VTOL Demonstrators Accelerate Full Tilt Vertiflite, March/April 2018 Vahana, the all-electric VTOL aircraft from A³ by Airbus, made its first full-scale flight on Jan. 31, 2018, at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon. The first untethered flight of the unmanned, fully self-piloted electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) demonstrator was a 53-second hover at 16 ft (5 m). A³ completed a second flight of the first demonstrator, dubbed “Alpha One,” the following day with representatives from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” said Zach Lovering, Project Executive of Vahana. “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.” The Vahana team plans to continue development and perform further flight tests to transition and forward flight. Lovering also announced that A³ has “identified a new partner for our motors, MAGicALL. The California-based company designs and manufactures custom, cutting-edge components (motors, generators, inductors, transformers, etc.) with impressive performance on rapid and affordable delivery schedules.” Founded in May 2015, A³ (“A-cubed”) is the Silicon Valley-based advanced projects outpost of Airbus. A³ focuses on projects centered around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productizable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale. A³ enables access to unique talent and ideas, new partnership opportunities, and execution at speed. Vahana aims to democratize personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage and machine vision. It has tilting fore and aft wings, each with four electrically-driven three-bladed propellers.
First Flight of the A³ Vahana in Pendleton, Oregon. evtol.news/aircraft/a3-by-airbus/
First Manned Flight of the Astro AA360 in California. evtol.news/aircraft/passenger-drone/
A³ Vahana A³ by Airbus San Jose, California, USA www.vahana.aero The Airbus A³ Vahana (pronounced “A-cubed”) is a full-scale prototype self-piloting electric 8-prop tilt wing vehicle. It is intended to fly a single passenger or cargo along a predetermined flight path. It completed its first test flight in January 2018. The vehicle uses eight 60 hp 45kW motors situated on forward and rear tilt-wings. Approximately 1/3rd of its mass are its batteries (≈272 Kg). Its sensor suite employs cameras as well as active Lidar and Radar. It has a crash rated seat and a ballistic parachute intended to work even at a low altitude. The A³ Vahana’s goal is to be utilized specifically as a single (eventually double) seated air taxi for urban mobility. Flying autonomously, it will follow only predetermined flight paths making minor deviations should obstacle avoidance be necessary. A³ Vahana’s first test flight occurred January 31, 2018 at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport. The full sized “Alpha One” prototype flew autonomously to a height of five meters for 53 seconds. Project Vahana began as one of the first projects of the Advanced Projects and Partnerships Outpost of the Airbus Group in California’s Silicon Valley. The group is intended to operate with strong innovative concepts and more aggressive timescales than traditional industry. Airbus plans to have a demonstrator by 2020 that can be put into production and capable of delivering more than 1 billion flight hours every year. A³ Vahana Characteristics (updated May 2018) Alpha Beta Passenger capacity 1 2 Fuselage length 18.75 ft 5.7 m 19.5 ft 5.86 m Overall height 9.275 ft 2.81 m 9.275 ft 2.81 m Wingspan 20.6 ft 6.25 m 20.6 ft 6.25 m Tip-to-tip distance 18.75 ft 5.7 m 18.75 ft 5.7 m Empty weight 1,050 lb 475 kg 1,050 lb 475 kg Max gross takeoff wt 1,800 lb 815 kg 1,800 lb 815 kg Useful load 200 lb 90 kg 450 lb 200 kg Range, with reserves 30 mi 60 km 60 mi 100 km Altitude 5,000 ft (at 95 °F) 1,524 m (at 35 °C) 10,000 ft (at 95 °F) 3,048 m (at 35 °C) Cruise speed 110 kt 200 km/h 125 kt 230 km/h Propulsors 8 propellers 8 propellers Motor output 8 x 60 hp 8 x 45 kW 8 x 60 hp 8 x 45 kW Power type electric/batteries electric/batteries First Flight 2018 2018 Resources Search eVTOL news posts Airbus website Rethinking Urban Air Mobility, June 2017 Article: Before They Take Off Flying Cars Must Defeat Bureaucracy, Wired, February 15, 2018 Article: Airbus Vahana eVTOL Aircraft Completes First Full-Scale Test Flight, DefPost, February 3, 2018 Article: First flight of the A³ Vahana eVTOL tiltwing, Vertipedia, January 2018 Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017 Video: Vahana – Passenger Experience, Vahana, June 16, 2017 Tags: A3, Airbus, Vectored Thrust, 1 Passenger, 2 Passengers, Flight Testing, Electric/Batteries, Autonomous, VFS Member
First Flight of the Astro AA360 in California. evtol.news/aircraft/passenger-drone/
Astro’s Elroy Blasts Off The exclusive story of the origins and progress of the PassengerDrone By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite Nov/Dec 2018 Astro Aerospace holds the distinction of being one of a handful of electric aircraft developers in the world to have successfully flown a piloted electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. (More details on Astro and links to more resources are available at www.eVTOL.news/passenger-drone.) Although the Texas-based company is new to the aerospace business, in March 2018 it completed the strategic acquisition of all rights to PassengerDrone. The aircraft first came to international attention with the team’s YouTube video release on July 16, 2017, which revealed that the 16-rotor eVTOL aircraft had made successful autonomous flights, followed by an actual passenger flight that September. Astro Aerospace was founded by Bruce Bent, a Canadian technology investor and the chief financial officer of Matthews Southwest, a large Dallas area-based private real-estate development company with major projects in the US, Canada, the UK and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. In late March 2018, the prototype PassengerDrone was shipped from Europe to North America to begin a new life as the Astro “AA360,” though that name was replaced with “Elroy” in September 2018. With the tagline “Flight Made Easy,” Astro’s goal is to “make self-flying unmanned and manned vehicles available to anyone, at any time, from anywhere, and to turn this new and exciting aircraft into a mainstream mode of transportation.” In the Beginning PassengerDrone was the brainchild of Boyan Zhelev and Ivaylo Nikolov, two Bulgaria-born electronics and software experts who spent many years working on security solutions before turning their attention to the development of drones in 2004. “At that time, only a couple of companies and teams were developing multi-rotor aircraft … [and our] initial development target was a completely autonomous system mainly for surveillance applications. Our team soon realized that there were no existing, ready-to-use electronics modules or software solutions for such applications, so we started developing these from scratch,” recalled Zhelev. The partners began “designing and building the necessary electronics modules and hardware, and developing the advanced software algorithms. Then after three years of efforts, our multi-rotor prototypes began performing completely autonomous flights in 2007.” These efforts led to a successful business partnership with some industry-leading German companies in the emerging consumer drone market, as well as work developing military applications that utilized the team’s know-how in advanced motor control and radio communications. Work on a manned eVTOL aircraft began in 2015, with the goal of “developing a passenger drone aircraft that is intuitive to fly, even for an inexperienced pilot, and that can be operated completely autonomously,” recalled Zhelev. “Our aim was developing flight control systems which can assist human operators or pilots in handling flying, with ease — much like the challenging development of automobile autopilots, but adding a third dimension.” The next three years were spent “developing a completely new system architecture to provide this desired ease of flight, with a strong focus on safety, redundancy, flight …
Uber announces countries shortlisted to have first international Uber Air City Uber Elevate Press Release, Aug. 30, 2018 Uber Elevate has announced five shortlisted finalist countries that could be home to the first international Uber Air City within the next five years. Additionally, Uber Elevate has announced plans to experiment with drone delivery for Uber Eats, and demonstrated how potential Uber Air routes in Asia-Pacific cities could benefit, and complement, local transportation systems. Head of Uber aviation programs Eric Allison said, “We are proud to host the first ever Uber Elevate Asia-Pacific Expo, showcasing the exciting future Uber Air can bring to the region and to the world. In pursuit of our first international launch market, where you will be able to push a button and get a flight, we are announcing a shortlist of five countries where Uber Air can immediately transform transportation and take our technology to new heights. “We want to thank the attendees of the expo who got a first peek at Uber Eats delivered by drones, potential future routes where Uber Air will fly people across cities in the Asia-Pacific region, and many other ways Uber is creating a new future of truly multimodal transportation,” Allison added. Honorable Daisaku Hiraki, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said, “I am very pleased that Uber’s first-ever Elevate APAC Expo took place in Japan. We see much potential in flying cars, and we anticipate that flying cars can be used not only to help solve traffic congestion in urban areas, but it will also help with increase mobility between city centers and remote islands and mountainous areas, promote tourism in Japan as well as enhance disaster relief operations. “The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced on Aug. 29 that the Investments for the Future Strategy 2018 will consist of launching a Public-Private Conference for Future Air Mobility to revolutionize the aviation mobility industry. I believe public and private sectors, including companies outside of Japan, should work collaboratively to develop this new technology. I am confident that Japan has the potential to become a leader in aviation innovation.” Shortlist for First International Uber Air City Uber’s Elevate program is creating urban aerial ridesharing, globally. Starting in approximately five years, Uber customers in launch cities will be able to push a button and get a flight on demand. To enable this, Uber has assembled a network of partners that includes vehicle manufacturers, real estate developers, technology developers and more. Dallas and Los Angeles were previously announced as the first two U.S. launch cities, and at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit in May, Uber announced it was seeking an international city as a third partner. After evaluating countries across the globe, Uber executives announced at the Uber Elevate Asia-Pacific Expo that the following five countries are on a shortlist: Japan — Home of one of the world’s most enviable public transit systems and a world leader in …
eVTOL Corporate Members Our corporate members have an unprecedented opportunity to network and engage with all levels of the rotorcraft technical community, including industry, academia, and government. A³ Vahana AgustaWestland Project Zero (defunct) Airbus CityAirbus AirspaceX MOBi Aurora eVTOL Aurora LightningStrike (defunct) Bartini Flying Car Bell Air Taxi Boeing Cargo Aerial Vehicle Carter Air Taxi Joby Lotus (defunct) Joby S2 (defunct) Joby S4 Karem Butterfly Kitty Hawk Cora Kitty Hawk Flyer Kitty Hawk Flyer (defunct prototype) Lilium Jet Piasecki eVTOL Pipistrel (unnamed) Pop.Up Next Rolls-Royce EVTOL Sikorsky Firefly (defunct) Sikorsky VERT Terrafugia TF-2 Lift + Push Terrafugia TF-2 Tiltrotor Terrafugia TF-X Urban Aeronautics CityHawk Volocopter 2X Volocopter VC1/VC2 (defunct prototypes) Volocopter VC200 XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 Zee Aero Z-P2 Zenith Altitude EOPA Don’t see your company on this list? Join as a corporate member!
Piloted All eVTOL aircraft that operate with a pilot Aeroxo LV ERA Aviabike AgustaWestland Project Zero (defunct) Airbus CityAirbus Alauda Airspeeder Aquinea Volta Assen A1 Aston Martin Volante Astro AA360 (Passenger Drone) Avianovations Hepard Bay Zoltán Flike Carter Aviation Air Taxi chAIR Multicopter Dekatone Flying Car Dufour aEro 2 EAC Whisper Electric Jet EJ-1 Embraer DreamMaker Flexcraft FlytCycle Georgia Tech HummingBuzz Gravity X Hero Flyer Hi-Lite Lynx-us HopFlyt Venturi Hoversurf Scorpion JAXA Hornisse Jetpack Aviation Joby Aviation S4 Kalashnikov (unnamed) Kármán XK-1 Kenyan Passenger Drone Kitty Hawk Flyer Kitty Hawk Flyer (defunct prototype) Leap Vantage Malloy Hoverbike ManDrone Moller Skycar M200 Moller Skycar M400 Napoleon Aero VTOL NASA Puffin Neva AirQuadOne NUS Snowstorm Opener BlackFly Penn State University Blue Sparrow Ray Research Dart Flyer Ray VTOL Aircraft Sikorsky Firefly (defunct) Silverwing S1 Scoop Pegasus 1 Sky-Hopper Solution F Supervolant Pegasus Swarm Multicopter Terrafugia TF-2 Lift + Push Terrafugia TF-2 Tiltrotor Terrafugia TF-X teTra 3 Texas A&M University Harmony Tier 1 Robinson R44 Transcend Air Vy 400 Trek Aerospace FlyKart 2 University of Kansas Mamba Urban Aeronautics CityHawk Vickers WAVE eVTOL Volocopter VC1/VC2 (defunct prototypes) Workhorse SureFly XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 View all pages with the tag “Piloted”