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Autonomous Flight Y6S Plus

Y6S Plus

 

Y6S Plus 
Autonomous Flight
Sevenoaks, Kent, United Kingdom
www.autonomousflight.com

Founded by British entrepreneur Martin Warner, Autonomous Flight is in the business of designing and manufacturing non-polluting electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft which are easy to manufacture and are highly reliable. To date, the company has been funded by Warner and a small group of private investors with $1 million USD. In January 2021, the startup launched a funding round to raise $25 million to get the Y6S Plus into production. Warner calls Urban Air Mobility the "next gold rush".

In 2015, Warner sold his 3-D printing company, Bot Objects, for $50 million. He also runs an air logistics software company called Parcel Fly and is involved in the movie distribution business through the Flix Premiere streaming service.

The Autonomous Flight Y6S Plus eVTOL is a six passenger short range winged and tilt-propeller aircraft initially designed as an air taxi for Urban Air Mobility. However, the aircraft's cabin can be reconfigured and used for various missions such as Emergency Medical Services, air cargo and more. The aircraft initially will be piloted and has been designed to be a completely autonomous aircraft once the technology is matured and safe. Some of the major changes of the reworked Y6S aircraft to the Y6S Plus aircraft include having six seats, conventional propellers and fixed skid landing gear. Its predecessor, the Y6S aircraft, is a two-seater aircraft, has ducted fans and has retractable landing gear. 

At a quick glance, the most noticeable change from the Y6S eVTOL to the to the Y6S Plus aircraft is the removal of the ducted propellers. The aircraft has a forward canard wing which at each end, support two tilt-props, each tilt-prop has two propellers. The rear of the aircraft has high wing and behind the rear wing has two stacked stationary propellers and used only for vertical flight. The rear wing has winglets. The Y6S is fully electric and is powered by lithium-ion batteries. While virtual videos from the company show the Y6S aircraft with retractable landing gear, the full-scale prototype in pictures, have fixed landing gear. 

The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), a range of  80 miles (130 km), a cruise altitude of 1,500 ft (450 m) with a flight time of 30 to 40 minutes. The aircraft has multiple redundant systems which reduces the chance for a single point of failure and the aircraft is equipped with a ballistic parachute. (In 2019, the estimated cruise speed was 70 mph (113 km/h) but as of January 2021, the company's website reports the maximum cruise speed of the aircraft is 125 mph (201 km/h)).

The pricing goal for the Y6S aircraft, used as a short range air taxi, is have the cost of the flight to be close to the price train ticket of the same distance. The vehicle is described as being part of an air service that can go from Heathrow airport to Charring Cross (in London) in ten minutes. Warner has stated that to be profitable in the Urban Air Mobility industry, the eVTOL aircraft will need to hold at least six or seven passengers.

It was reported in 2019, the company was flight testing near Surrey (a county in South East England) using a sub-scale prototype. Autonomous Flight is stepping up plans to start flight testing a full-scale prototype of the Y6S Plus eVTOL aircraft by the end of 2023.

However, Warner doesn't believe their Y6S two-seat aircraft for on-demand Urban Air Mobility provide a good return on investment, which is why the company has made the six seat Y6S Plus eVTOL aircraft for UAM. Autonomous Flight has also stated they have plans for a four-seat and eight-seat passenger aircraft, the AS1.

Warner has stated that once people are flying in an urban environment, not only will it be faster but they'll be able to take in the incredible views of the world we live in on a regular basis, like they'd never had before. In 2019, Warner said he expects the two seater aircraft to cost around £20,000 pounds ($27,378). The company sees eVTOL aircraft as a compliment to all other forms of urban travel. The company has not decided whether they will be leasing the aircraft, selling the aircraft or partnering with Urban Air Mobility companies for on-demand urban flight.

In 2018, Warner estimated commercial service within the United Kingdom is projected for 2023; however, in January 2021, he projected on-demand air taxis service won't be flying until 2035. Warner has estimated that autonomous flight will happen near 2030.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL luxury aircraft 
  • Piloting: 1 pilot (when technology allows, autonomous)
  • Flight controls: Triple redundancy flight controls
  • Capacity: 6 people including the pilot 
  • Maximum speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
  • Cruise altitude: 1,500 ft (450 m)
  • Range: 80 miles (130 km)
  • Propellers: 6 propellers in a Y configuration 
  • Electric Motors: 6 
  • Power source: Lithium-ion batteries 
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Windows: Panoramic windows allowing forward, left, right and top visibility, for spectacular views 
  • Wings: Canard low front wing and a high rear wing. The rear high wing has winglets. 
  • Landing gear: Fixed skid-type landing gear 
  • Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. The aircraft has multiple redundancies, so if there is a single point of failure, other systems are in place so the aircraft will still  continue to fly and land safely. It is equipped with a whole aircraft ballistic parachute. 

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