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Pivotal BlackFly V2 (prototype)

 

BlackFly V2 (prototype)
Pivotal
Palo Alto, California, USA
www.pivotal.aero

Pivotal was founded in 2011 in Warkworth, Ontario, Canada by Marcus Leng and is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page. The company's headquarters are now located in Palo Alto, California, USA. The company's original name was SkyKar and that name was eventually changed to Opener Aero. Opener Aero's name was change to Pivotal in October 2023. The company is in the business of designing and manufacturing passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM).

On October 5, 2011, Canadian engineer Leng made the first crewed flight (a 20 second flight) of the company's proof of concept electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the small town of Warkworth, Canada. This was the first crewed flight of a fixed-wing eVTOL aircraft, according the company's website. This event prompted the formation of a stealth company with the sole purpose of pursuing the development of this novel technology. In September of 2014, the company reorganized as Opener Aero and relocated the majority of its operations to Silicon Valley in California (USA) continue its business.

BlackFly V2 passenger eVTOL prototype aircraft
The BlackFly V2 is the third aircraft in the BlackFly series and holds one pilot and is an eVTOL prototype aircraft. It is preceded by the Rebel and BlackFly V1, and followed by the BlackFly V3. The aircraft has made several successful flights, including a crewed flight performed by Marcus Leng in March 2018. The aircraft has a canopy over the cockpit providing excellent views in all directions for the pilot and has a maximum pilot height six feet, two inches (1.88 meters). The first uncrewed flight took place on February 11, 2016 and the first crewed flight took place one March 19, 2018.

The cruise speed (in the USA) is 62 mph (limited) (99.78 km/h) and has a cruise speed (outside of USA) of 80+ mph (128.75+ km/h). The range (with 25% reserve in USA) of the prototype is 20 miles (32.19 kilometers). The aircraft has fixed tandem wings and has a total of eight propellers, eight electric motors and is powered by battery packs.

The empty weight of the aircraft is 310 lb (140.6 kg), has a maximum payload weight of 200 lb (90.7 kg) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 510 lb (231.3 kg). The fuselage is made from epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber material. The width of the fuselage is 13 feet, seven inches (4.1 meters), has a length of 13 feet, five inches (4.08 meters) and has a height of five feet (1.52 meters). The aircraft lands on the belly of the fuselage. There are fixed landing struts at the bottom ends of each wing to keep the wings safe from hitting any ground surface.

As the third prototype in the series, the BlackFly V2 built on the developments of the prior two models. There are key differences in the craft's design relative to its predecessors, but it is not as distinct from the BlackFly V1 as the BlackFly V1 is from the Rebel. The BlackFly V2 has a lower cruise speed than the BlackFly V1, and has the added safety feature of triple modular redundancy. Unlike the BlackFly V1, the craft has the capacity to carry one passenger.

The company, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, provides a timeline on its website. Engineer Marcus Leng (now CEO of Opener) began developing the concept in August 2009, and made what appears to "the first manned flight of a fixed-wing all-electric VTOL aircraft" on Oct. 5, 2011, at his home in Warkworth, Canada in Ontario, 90 miles east of Toronto.

In Canada (unlike the US), ultralight aircraft must be registered. Leng registered three prototype ultralights with Transport Canada under the company name SkyKar, Inc.:

  • The Rebel (serial number 0011) as C-IJQV on Dec. 15, 2011
  • BlackFly (001) as C-IKLT on March 11, 2014
  • BlackFly (002) as C-IKLY on May 6, 2014

After the flight of the BlackFly V1, Leng founded Opener and relocated the majority of its operations to Silicon Valley, "to pursue an unencumbered and accelerated development timeline" with more investment capital. Additional milestones followed:

  • August 2009: Vehicle concept created
  • October 2011: Rebel SkyKar first flight
  • August 11, 2014: BlackFly V1 first flight
  • February 2015: First 2 minute hover with 200 lb (90 kg) payload
  • February 11, 2016: BlackFly V2 takes flight
  • November 2016: First 30 mile flight with 200 lb (90 kg) payload
  • September 2017: 10,000 miles flown with 200 lb (90 kg) payload (minimum 30 mile flights)
  • October 20, 2017: BlackFly V3 first flight of pre-production model
  • March 19 2018: BlackFly V2 first crewed flight
  • September 2018: 20,000 miles flown with 200 lb (90 kg) payload
  • March 2019: Pre-production manufacturing begins.

In March 2019, pre-production manufacturing began. During EAA Airventure 2019 (July 22-28, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA), Opener trade show booth displays stated: 23,000 plus miles flown (37,015 plus km), over 2,300 flights had taken place, BlackFly can be disassembled and fit into a small truck, you can quickly assemble the aircraft in 30 minutes and fly, it has supercharging which means it can charge to 80% in 25 minutes and it has take-off and landing assistance.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger prototype aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Maximum pilot height: 6 ft, 2 in (1.88 m)
  • First uncrewed flight: February 11, 2016
  • First crewed flight: March 19, 2018
  • Cruise Speed (USA): 62 mph (limited) (99.78 km/h)
  • Cruise Speed (outside of USA): 80+ mph (128.75+ km/h)
  • Range (with 25% reserve in USA): 20 miles (32.19 km)
  • Flight time: Unknown
  • Cruise altitude: Unknown
  • Width: 13 ft, 7 in (4.1 m)
  • Length: 13 ft, 5 in (4.08 m)
  • Height: 5 ft (1.52 m)
  • Take off run: 3 ft (0.91 m)
  • Landing distance: 3 ft (0.91 m)
  • Maximum climb rate: 1,000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
  • Maximum descent rate: 1,000 fpm (5.08 m/s)
  • Temperature range for safe operations: 32°F to 86°F (0°C to 30°C)
  • Maximum wind speed for safe operations: 25 mph (40.23 km/h)
  • Empty weight: 310 lb (140.6 kg)
  • Maximum payload weight: 200 lb (90.7 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 510 lb (231.3 kg)
  • Propellers: 8 propellers
  • Electric motors: 8 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit
  • Wings: Fixed tandem wings
  • Landing gear: Lands on the belly of the aircraft. There are also four small fixed struts on the bottom end of each wing to protect the wings from hitting the ground on landing or during takeoff.
  • 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. The aircraft has been made with a safety fault-tolerant design. There are also redundancies in the sub-systems and other parts of the aircraft. The aircraft has an emergency ballistic parachute.

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