San Diego, California, USA
On September 10, 2021, Geode Capital Management purchased Ion Aircraft, maker of the Ion 100 prototype piston-powered Ion 100 but as of 2020, production had never started on this aircraft. Then on October 1, 2021, Joe Chen, President of Geode Capital Management (San Diego, California, USA) founded the company ION eVTOL and unveiled their design for an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
Ion Aircraft's Ion 100 is a small general aviation two passenger Rotax piston powered airplane called the Ion 100. The Ion 100 airplane has a canopy over the cockpit (like the ones you see on a fighter jet) which provides excellent visibility and fantastic views for the pilot and passenger. The Ion 100's features include tandem seating, a luxury interior, a glass cockpit, a low wing, a high tail mounted on twin booms and fixed wheeled landing gear. The airplane boasts a slow landing speed and a lenient stall making it an optimium aircraft for flight training and sightseeing.
While Ion Aircraft never put the Ion 100 into production, the company has many years of experience in building their prototype and putting components together to make an airworthy aircraft. The company also has a good understanding of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations. Transitioning from piston powered aircraft to eVTOL aircraft will be easier for the company, based on its years of aircraft prototyping, testing and knowledge of aviation regulations.
The newly designed CH-e eVTOL five passenger aircraft has a retro-modern type look with their graphic depicting the entire exterior of aircraft to be silver and shiny. This look resembles the former look, you might recognize, that American Airlines used on their airliners, no paint and only bare shiny metal. The CH-e eVTOL aircraft has larger windows than general aviation airplanes, has a total of nine electric propellers, one main high wing, a high tail mounted on twin booms with retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear.
The propellers are arranged with four tilt-props on the leading edge of the main wing, four fixed ducted propellers on the trailing edge of the wing and one ducted pusher propeller behind the passenger compartment, with a total of nine propellers. Therefore, eight propellers would be used for VTOL flight and five propellers would be used for forward flight.
This aircraft will have a very useful range of 130 miles (208 km) for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and the company states their eVTOL aircraft will be able to fly this distance on one battery charge. As of October 2021, no mention has been made of its estimated cruise speed or maximum payload. As with most electric passenger aircraft, the noise the CH-e will make will be at a minimum allowing Urban Air Mobility to take place without disturbing the general public. The aircraft will be a valuable tool for both Urban Air Mobility and rural travel.
The company predicts their eVTOL aircraft will be used for on-demand air taxi service, air package delivery, search and rescue, personnel recovery and medevac operations. The company plans to start test flights of their eVTOL aircraft in the spring 2023.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger aircraft
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Capacity: 4 passengers
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: 130 miles (208 km)
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Propellers: 9 propellers
- Electric Motor: 9 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Larger windows than a normal general aviation plane
- Wings: 1 high wing with winglets
- Tail: Twin boom High tail
- Landing gear: Retractable tricycle 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.