The TriFan 600 prototype completed multiple takeoffs, hover, and landings, which tested and validated the electric motors, battery power system, ducted fan propulsion, flight controls, other electrical systems and instrumentation. The aircraft was on a short tether during the tests due to its location at an airport in northern California where it was constructed. Future flights at a certified UAV test facility will be untethered in hover and will also test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes.
The flights were conducted in Placerville, California. First flight was on Thursday, May 2 at approximately 6:00 pm (Pacific Time) and continued throughout the day on May 3. The demonstrator conducted multiple controlled takeoffs, hovers and landings. The company released a short video with footage of the demonstrator assembly and hover testing. XTI said that it had conducted “Multiple runs, all stable and with sufficient power.”
“This is the moment the entire XTI team, our investors, customers, and many others have been waiting for and working toward. In one year, we have progressed from conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said XTI Chief Executive Officer Robert LaBelle. “The aircraft proved to be stable in hover and had no problems throughout several runs.”
In January 2019, VFS released the first photos of the 65%-scale model (N665XT) of XTI Aircraft’s TriFan 600. The subscale model will be used to validate the design configuration in hover, transition and forward flight. Subsequent testing is scheduled to take place at the Deseret UAS test site near Tooele, Utah.
Fabrication of this Proof of Concept demonstrator began in June 2017 at Placerville Airport, CA, and was completed in December 2018. From January to April 2019, XTI conducted ground tests and validated the electric motors, the battery systems, ducts, propellers, flight controls, electrical systems and instrumentation.
The TriFan 600 is a six-seat, hybrid-electric, fixed-wing airplane that uses three ducted fans to power the aircraft from vertical takeoff and landing to 340 kt (630 km/h) and a range of 650 nm (1,200 nm) for VTOL or 1,200 nm (2,200 km) when operating from a runway.
The full-size aircraft will have a wingspan of 37.7 ft (11.5 m) and a length of 38.7 ft (11.8 m). The two wing-mounted ducts will have single 6 ft (1.8 m) diameter propellers powered by two 350 hp (260 kW) electric motors and two 5 ft (1.5 m) diameter co-axial ducted propellers located in the aft fuselage with one motor for each propeller.
A single 1,000 shp (745 kW)-class Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine will power three generators in the hybrid-electric propulsion system. The 65% scale model uses batteries only, with the battery pack made in-house by XTI and its partner Trek Aerospace, who also manufactured the ducts and assembled the aircraft. The electric motors and controllers are from MGM Compro, a company based in Zlín, the Czech Republic, that specializes in these components.
Learn more about XTI Aircraft’s TriFan 600 in the VFS World eVTOL Aircraft Directory.