Horizon Aircraft based in Canada, was co-founded in 2013 by Brandon Robinson, CEO and Jason O’Neill, COO. Horizon Aircraft is in the business of designing and building long-range hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL) focusing on safety, practicality and operational flexibility. The company's aircraft are made for long-range advanced air mobility (AAM). (Image credit: Horizon Aircraft)
The idea for the company's first hybrid-electric aircraft came around 2008 when a client wanted a highly modified amphibious seaplane and Brian Robinson (Brandon's father) said how about building an entirely new seaplane? The company designed the Horizon X3 hybrid-electric seaplane that was made so if the aircraft ran out of gas (or the engine stopped working), an additional power source, a battery, could land the aircraft to safety. For this type of system to work correctly, they designed a combustion engine which could be decoupled, so that batteries could take over to power the electric motor turning the propeller. The Horizon X3 was eventually shelved but it allowed the company to transition into making its new hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft called the Cavorite X5.
As the eVTOL industry began to gain momentum, Horizon Aircraft decided to get into the game. The company wanted to make a useful aircraft which could do the work of a helicopter but could be faster, more efficient and safer. The name of the aircraft was decided to be the Cavorite X5 and the name is taken directly from the 1901 H.G. Wells book, "The First Men in the Moon" Cavorite was the name a fictional metal, made up by H.G. Wells, which would cancel the effects of gravity and make a spaceship fly.
The revolutionary Cavorite platform was selected for the highly competitive AFWERX High-Speed VTOL (HSVTOL) Challenge. In partnership with the United States Air Force (USAF) and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) the program that develops innovative HSVTOL concepts.
Cavorite X7 long-range hybrid-electric VTOL passenger concept design aircraft
The Cavorite X7 is a long-range hybrid-electric VTOL seven passenger concept design aircraft made for advanced air mobility (AAM). The aircraft holds one pilot, six passengers and their luggage. The cockpit has a canopy over the cockpit that slides forward to enter and exit the aircraft. The passenger cabin has gull-wing doors. The aircraft has a patented fan in wing system allowing for VTOL flight and has a pusher propeller forward flight allowing the plane to fly as a conventional airplane.
The maximum cruise speed of the aircraft is 450 km/h (280 mph) and has a range of 805 km (500 m). The aircraft has 16 fans in-the-wing system with 16 electric motors which are inside tandem wings for VTOL flight. The top and bottom portion of the wings slide open allowing VTOL flight and slide closed during forward flight. For forward flight, there is one pusher propeller in the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft uses a hybrid-electric power source with batteries allowing the aircraft to fly long-range trips.
The aircraft is made from carbon fiber composite for a high strength and low weight ratio. The tail is a modified V tail and the aircraft has retractable wheeled landing gear. The aircraft can takeoff and land normally as a VTOL aircraft. The aircraft can also take off and land on short or long runways like a conventional airplane.
If the engine runs out of fuel or some type of mechanical failure occurs with the engine, there is is a battery pack which can continue to power all the electrical systems on the aircraft to land it safely. Also, the aircraft can land conventionally, if there is not enough power in the battery pack for a vertical landing.
The company decided to increase the passenger amount from the Cavorite X5 (holding four passengers) to the new Cavorite X7 (which holds six passengers) due to positive flight tests and aerodynamic computer analysis of the 1/2 scale Cavorite X5 flying prototype and due to market demand. The Cavorite X7 aircraft has been designed for regional advanced air mobility between cities, for rural travel or any long-range type of travel.
Horizon Aircraft is currently raising funding for the development of a full-scale X7 technology demonstrator aircraft through special purpose acquisition company Pono Capital Three. The company also intends to raise additional capital from a private investment in public equity (PIPE) investment.
Wind tunnel testing is currently taking place in 2023 on a half-scale Cavorite X5 prototype aircraft. Plans are to test the full-scale Cavorite X7 technology demonstrator aircraft in 2024 and to obtain type certification for their production aircraft in 2026 or 2027. The company foresees the Cavorite X7 to be initially be used for medevac, fire-fighting and air cargo missions. Then after many of the initial mission flights are successful, the air missions will gradually be expanded for regional passenger advanced air mobility (AAM).
Propellers: 16 fans (patented fan in wing system), 1 pusher propeller
Electric motors: 17 electric motors
Power source: Hybrid-electric power source
Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
Windows: The cockpit has a canopy over the cockpit which slides forward for exit and entry. The passenger cabin has gull-wing doors.
Wings: Tandem wings
Tail: Modified V tail
Landing gear: Retractable wheeled landing gear
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft. If the engine runs out of fuel or some type of mechanical failure occurs with the engine, there is is a battery pack which can continue to power all the electrical systems on the aircraft to land it safely. Also, the aircraft can land conventionally, if there is not enough power in the battery pack for a vertical landing.
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