BlackFly
Opener, Inc.
Palo Alto, California, USA
www.opener.aero

On July 12, 2018, Opener unveiled its BlackFly personal air vehicle, which is fully-qualified to FAA Part 103 ultralight standards. Based on FAA ultralight restrictions, the BlackFly is limited to a maximum speed of 62 mph (100 km/h) and 25 miles (40 km), however its maximum performance characteristics are significantly more than this, as shown in the specifications table below from the Opener website and its display at Oshkosh 2018.

The company, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, provides a timeline on its website. Engineer Marcus Leng (now CEO of Opener) began developing the concept in August 2009, and made what appears to “the first manned flight of a fixed-wing all-electric VTOL aircraft” on Oct. 5, 2011, at his home in Warkworth, Canada in Ontario, 90 miles east of Toronto.

In Canada (unlike the US), ultralight aircraft must be registered. Leng registered three prototype ultralights with Transport Canada under the company name SkyKar, Inc.:

  • The Rebel (serial number 0011) as C-IJQV on Dec. 15, 2011
  • BlackFly (001) as C-IKLT on March 11, 2014
  • BlackFly (002) as C-IKLY on May 6, 2014

The second generation aircraft, the more advanced BlackFly v1 first flew in August 2014; Leng then founded Opener and relocated the majority of its operations to Silicon Valley, “to pursue an unencumbered and accelerated development timeline” with more investment capital. Additional milestones followed:

  • August 2009: Vehicle concept created
  • October 2011: BlackFly v0 first flight
  • August 2014: BlackFly v1 first flight
  • February 2015: First 2-minute hover with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload
  • February 2016: BlackFly v2 takes flight
  • November 2016: First 30 mile flight with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload
  • September 2017: 10,000 miles flown with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload (minimum 30 mile flights)
  • October 2017: BlackFly v3 first flight of pre-production model
  • March 2018: BlackFly v2 first manned flight
  • September 2018: 20,000 miles flown with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload
  • March 2019: Pre-production manufacturing begins.

In March 2019, pre-production manufacturing began. During EAA Airventure 2019 (July 22-28, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA), Opener trade show booth displays stated, 23,000 plus miles flown (37,015 plus km), over 2,300 flights had taken place, BlackFly can be disassembled and fit into a small truck, you can quickly assemble the aircraft in 30 minutes and fly, it has supercharging which means it can charge to 80% in 25 minutes and it has take-off and landing assistance.

SkyKar first flight, October 5, 2011
Generations of BlackFly aircraft (left to right) SkyKar, BlackFly v1, BlackFly v2, BlackFly v3
Marcus Leng in flight on 19 March 2018 in the BlackFly v2 eVTOL aircraft

Description

  • Single seat
  • PAV (Personal Aerial Vehicle)
  • VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing)
  • Fixed tandem-wing aircraft
  • Full electric propulsion

Classification

  • Ultralight (USA)
  • Basic Ultralight (Canada)
  • Amphibious-capable (freshwater)

Controls

  • Joystick, fly-by-wire electrical controls

Structure

  • Epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber

Landing surfaces

  • Grass, asphalt, snow, ice

Safety

  • Triple-modular redundancy
  • Fault-tolerant design
  • 8 fixed propulsion units
  • 4 redundant elevon pairs
  • Ballistic parachute (optional)

Operating conditions

  • 25 mph max wind (take-off and landing)
  • 0 – 30 °C temperature range
  • Non-precipitating

Specifications

Specification SkyKar BlackFly v1 BlackFly v2 BlackFly v3
First Flight October 5, 2011 August 11, 2014 February 11, 2016 October 20, 2017
First Manned Flight October 5, 2011 N/A March 19, 2018 N/A
Passengers 1 Passenger Payload only 1 Passenger 1 Passenger
Structure Epoxy Impregnated Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber` Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber
Max Operator Height 6 ft (1.83 m) N/A 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Max Operator Weight 160 lb (72.6 kg) N/A 200 lbs (90.7 kg) 250 lbs (113.4 kg)
Propulsion N/A 8 Custom Motors 8 Custom Motors 8 Custom Motors
Width 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m) 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m) 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m) 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m)
Length 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m) 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m) 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m) 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m)
Height 3 ft 9 in (1.1 m) 5 ft (1.52 m) 5 ft (1.52 m) 5 ft (1.52 m)
Empty Weight 237 lbs (107.5 kg) 310 lbs (140.6 kg) 310 lbs (140.6 kg) 313 lbs (142.0 kg)
Max Payload 160 lbs (72.6 kg) 200 lbs (90.7 kg) 200 lbs (90.7 kg) 250 lbs (113.4 kg)
Battery (USA) N/A 8.0 kWh 8.0 kWh 8.0 kWh
Battery (Int’l) N/A 8.0 kWh 12.0 kWh 12.0 kWh
120 V @ 15 A (20% to 100 %) N/A 7.4 hrs 7.4 hrs 7.4 hrs
120 V @ 20 A (20% to 100 %) N/A 5.5 hrs 5.5 hrs 5.5 hrs
240 V @ 50 A (20% to 100 %) N/A 1.2 hrs 1.2 hrs 67 min
240 V @ 2×50 A (20% to 80 %) N/A N/A N/A 35 min
Max Wind N/A 25 mph (40.23 kph) 25 mph (40.23 kph) 25 mph (40.23 kph)
Temperature Range N/A 32°F – 86°F (0°C – 30°C) 32°F – 86°F (0°C – 30°C) 32°F – 86°F (0°C – 30°C)
Takeoff in Precipitation N/A No No No
Performance (@ Max Take-off Weight)
Cruise Speed (USA) N/A 62 mph (limited) (99.78 kph) 62 mph (limited) (99.78 kph) 62 mph (limited) (99.78 kph)
Cruise Speed (Int’l) N/A 100+ mph (160.93+ kph) 80+ mph (128.75+ kph) 80+ mph (128.75+ kph)
Max. climb rate N/A 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
Max. descent rate N/A 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
Take off run N/A 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m)
Landing distance N/A 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m)
Range (with 25% reserve in USA) N/A 12+ miles (19.31+ km) 20 miles (32.19 km) 20 miles (32.19 km)
Range (Int’l) N/A N/A N/A 40+ miles (64.37 km)
Static Thrust (max.) N/A N/A N/A 900+ lbs (400.2 kg)
Safety N/A Fault-Tolerant Design Fault-Tolerant Design, Triple Modular Redundancy Fault-Tolerant Design, Triple Modular Redundancy, Ballistic Parachute (optional)
Noise Signature (Cruise @ 150 ft) N/A N/A N/A 72 dBa
Resources

Tags:

 Opener Vectored ThrustFlight Testing, 1 PassengerElectric/Batteries, Piloted