On October 3, 2019, Kitty Hawk revealed they’ve been secretly working for two years on a single-seat electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft called Heaviside (HVSD). The aircraft was named after the English self-taught electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist, Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925). For historical information, Kitty Hawk Corporation purchased Zee Aero aircraft and its technology and intellectual property rights in March 2018.
Safety, redundancy, public acceptance (low noise), user low cost, taking off and landing anywhere, high speed flight and flying without having to be a pilot are all key aspects to the design of the Heaviside eVTOL aircraft.
It took just a year to take HVSD [Heaviside] from a concept and some sketches to building a prototype and conducting the first test flights. This past year has been spent testing and refining the aircraft and, as Vander Lind puts it, “trying to make it crash.” It’s a goal that they have yet to accomplish. — Tech Crunch article, Oct. 3, 2019.
Kitty Hawk describes the aircraft sound as 100 times quieter than a helicopter, faster than a helicopter and weighs about one-third of a Cessna airplane. It has a distinct orange, black and light grey paint scheme aircraft. The Heaviside aircraft has been made with a large plexiglass dome so the view is not restricted and the passenger can see in all directions.
Taking a minute or so to study the aircraft, one might be surprised to find that it's a taildragger eVTOL aircraft! And interestingly, it has a high-forward-swept main wing, canard wings (or forewings) and a very standard rudder and horizontal stabilizer in the back. The eVTOL aircraft has a total of eight propellers. There are six propellers on the 20 foot (6 meter) main wing and two propellers on the forewings (or short front wings). Notice how all the propellers are mounted on the rear of the wings and instead of tilting up for vertical flight, the propellers tilt down, for vertical flight.
The aircraft can travel about 55 miles or 88.5 km (for example, from San Jose to San Francisco, USA) in 15 minutes. No information on the type of electric motors or electric batteries being used, as of October 3, 2019. Kitty Hawk notes that a helicopter hovering at 1,500 feet (457 meters) emits about 80 decibels (dBA), while Heaviside only emits 38 dBA. Noise below 40 dBA has been reported as the average noise in a quiet neighborhood. A June 2019 web article compared eight different quiet home window air conditioners which revealed the noise levels varied from 43 decibels to 54 decibels.
The propellers, electric motors and their housings tilt together for vertical flight. The tilting of the propellers look similar to the Bell V-280 tiltrotor aircraft, with the exception that the V-280 tiltrotor has turbine-engines which guzzle gas and are permanently mounted horizontally at the ends of the wing and the proprotors and driveshafts tilt up for vertical flight. Note that the Heaviside eVTOL propellers tilt down for vertical flight.
The company expects the aircraft to be used for air taxi service and for personal air transportation. In addition to the Heaviside, Kitty Hawk has also developed the Kitty Hawk Cora line, the Kitty Hawk Flyer, and the Flyer prototype.
On September 21, 2022, Kitty Hawk announced that the Heaviside one passenger eVTOL program has been shut down. In 2019, Wisk Aero was formed as a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk Corporation. According to Wisk Aero, the news does not impact its plans to bring an autonomous eVTOL air taxi to market. In February 2022, Wisk received $450 million in funding from Boeing.
Aircraft type: eVTOL tiltrotor aircraft
Piloting: Manually or autonomous
Capacity: 1 person
Cruise speed: 220 mph (354 km/h) - based on traveling 55 miles (88.5 km) in 15 minutes time
Range: 100 miles
Propellers: 8 (6 on the main wing, 2 on the forewing)
Electric motors: At least 8 electric motors (maybe more)
Energy type: Batteries, 100% all electric
Noise: At 1,500 feet (457 meters) 38 dBA
Wing configuration: A three-surface wing configuration. Rear horizontal stabilizer and rudder, high-forward-swept main wing and a forewing
Horizontal stabilizer/Rudder: A conventional fuselage mounted tail wing, or horizontal stabilizer, and standard rudder, with no propellers
Main wing: A 20 foot wide (6 meters) high-forward-swept wing with 6 propellers mounted on the rear of the wing. 3 propellers on each wing
Front wing (canard or forewing): Small forewing with 2 propellers, 1 propeller mounted on the rear of each forewing
Landing gear configuration: 2 non-retractable front landing gear and a tailskid in the rear of the aircraft. A taildragger landing gear configuration
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 can land like a plane on a runway or street.
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