Butterfly (concept design)
Santa Ana, California, USA www.overair.com
Overair, Inc. is a spin-off from Karem Aircraft and is located in Santa Ana, California, USA. Overair became its own independent company in 2019 and will be making the production prototype for their electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft named Butterfly.
Karem Aircraft was founded by Abe Karem in 2004 in California, USA. Ben Tigner was the President and CEO of Karem Aircraft and as of January 2020, is now the President and CEO of Overair. Uber Elevate announced on May 8, 2018 that it was adding Karem Aircraft (now Overair) as one of its aircraft partners to design an eVTOL aircraft for Uber's Elevate ecosystem. In December 2020, Uber sold Uber Elevate to Joby Aviation.
In July 2019, it was reported that Korean industrial conglomerate Hanwha Systems, pending regulatory approval, will invest $25M in a subsidiary of Karem Aircraft to develop the Butterfly eVTOL aircraft for Uber Elevate's mission. On Jan. 15, 2020, it was announced that Hanwha Systems was approved for the $25M dollar investment for Karem's spin-off company, Overair. Hanwha Systems now owns 30% of Overair, Inc.
The eVTOL passenger Butterfly aircraft concept design was first revealed to the public in Los Angeles (California, USA) at the Uber Elevate Summit on May 8, 2018. The aircraft is flown by one pilot and carries four passengers and their luggage. The cruise speed for the aircraft is estimated to be 200 mph (322 km/h) with a range of 60 miles (97 km). The flight range was a goal from Uber Air.
The aircraft has four tilt-propellers, two propellers are on the high main wing and two propellers are on the rear V-tail of the aircraft. The unique aspect of this aircraft is the Karem invention of relatively large, slow-turning propellers with blades that are light and rigid to vary their speed of rotation in different flight regimes without encountering unacceptable vibration. According to the company, when compared to other eVTOL aircraft using smaller propellers, the Butterfly eVTOL aircraft will require less power at all air speeds and especially when hovering.
This key goal for Overair, for maximum efficiency of their aircraft which is provided by their larger slower rotating propellers provide efficient lift, efficient forward flight, safer flight and quieter acoustics. This also means the Butterfly can fly faster and further using less energy. In addition, using an entirely electric propulsion system reduces the weight and complexity of the aircraft which adds to the efficiency of the aircraft.
Some other design features include the aircraft being powered by battery packs, having a carbon fiber composite fuselage, having multiple redundant systems, having larger windows than conventional aircraft for better views for the passengers and has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear. While retractable wheeled landing gear increases the complexity of the aircraft, this landing gear configuration increases the efficiency of the aircraft when flying. In addition, when the aircraft is on the ground, wheeled landing gear makes it easier for the pilot or ground crew to position the aircraft.
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 in the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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