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.

The company, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, provides a timeline on its website. Engineer Marcus Leng 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-1IZNN on May 6, 2014

The second 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:

  • February 2015: First 2-minute hover with 200-lb payload
  • February 2016: BlackFly v2 takes flight
  • November 2016: First 30 mile flight with 200-lb payload
  • September 2017: 10,000 miles flown with 200-lb payload (minimum 30 mile flights)
  • October 2017: First pre-production model flown, BlackFly v3
  • March 2018: First manned flight of BlackFly v2
BlackFly first flight, 2011
Generations of BlackFly aircraft
Marcus Leng in flight

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

8 Custom Motors

Specification BlackFly V1 BlackFly V2 BlackFly V3
First Flight August 11, 2015 February 11, 2016 October 20, 2017
First Manned Flight N/A March 19, 2018 N/A
Passengers Payload only 1 Passenger 1 Passenger
Structure Carbon Fiber` Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber
Max Operator Height N/A 6 ft 2 in 1.88 m 6 ft 6 in 1.98 m
Max Operator Weight N/A 200 lbs 90.7 kg 250 lbs 113.4 kg
Propulsion 8 Custom Motors 8 Custom Motors 8 Custom Motors
Width 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m) 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m) 13 ft 7 in (4.1 m)
Length 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m) 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m) 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m)
Height 5 ft (1.52 m) 5 ft (1.52 m) 5 ft (1.52 m)
Empty Weight 310 lbs (140.6 kg) 310 lbs (140.6 kg) 313 lbs (142.0 kg)
Max Payload 200 lbs (90.7 kg) 200 lbs (90.7 kg) 250 lbs (113.4 kg)
Battery (USA) 8.0 kWh 8.0 kWh 8.0 kWh
Battery (Int’l) 8.0 kWh 12.0 kWh 12.0 kWh
120 V @ 15 A (20% to 100 %) 7.4 hrs 7.4 hrs 7.4 hrs
120 V @ 20 A (20% to 100 %) 5.5 hrs 5.5 hrs 5.5 hrs
240 V @ 50 A (20% to 100 %) 1.2 hrs 1.2 hrs 67 min
240 V @ 2×50 A (20% to 80 %) N/A N/A 35 min
Max Wind 25 mph (40.23 kph) 25 mph (40.23 kph) 25 mph (40.23 kph)
Temperature Range 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 No No No
Performance (@ Max Take-off Weight)
Cruise Speed (USA) 100+ mph (160.93+ kph) 62 mph (limited) (99.78 kph) 62 mph (limited) (99.78 kph)
Cruise Speed (Int’l) 100+ mph (160.93+ kph) 80+ mph (128.75+ kph) 80+ mph (128.75+ kph)
Max. climb rate 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
Max. descent rate 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s) 1000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
Take off run 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m)
Landing distance 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m) 3 ft (0.91 m)
Range (with 25% reserve in USA) 12+ miles (19.31+ km) 20 miles (32.19 km) 20 miles (32.19 km)
Range (Int’l) N/A N/A 40+ miles (64.37 km)
Static Thrust (max.) N/A N/A 900+ lbs (400.2 kg)
Safety 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 72 dBa

Resources:

Tags:

 Opener Vectored ThrustFlight Testing, 1 PassengerElectric/Batteries, Piloted