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Pivotal Rebel (proof of concept)

 

Rebel (proof of concept)
Pivotal (formerly SkyKar, Inc)
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.
 

Rebel one passenger eVTOL proof of concept aircraft
The Rebel is one passenger eVTOL proof of concept aircraft. The first flight was crewed took place on October 5, 2011 in Warkworth, Ontario, Canada, where the inventor lived. The aircraft has a canopy over the cockpit. The first flight was a 20 second flight. The maximum height for the pilot was set at 6 feet (1.83 meters).

The cruise speed of the aircraft is unknown. The proof of concept aircraft has tandem wings with a total of eight propellers, eight electric motors and uses batteries for its power source. There are four propellers on each wing of the aircraft. The fuselage was made from an epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber composite material. The fuselage width is eight feet three inches (2.5 meters), the length is eight feet three inches (2.5 meters) and the height is three feet nine inches (1.1 meters).

The empty weight of the aircraft is 237 lbs (107.5 kg), the maximum payload weight is 160 lb (72.6 kg) and the aircraft's maximum takeoff weight is 397 lb (180 kg). The aircraft lands on the bottom of its fuselage.

The company, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, provides a timeline on its Opener Aero website. Leng (now CEO of Opener) began developing the concept in August 2009. After the flight of the Rebel in 2011, Leng continued to develop eVTOL aircraft in what is now known as the BlackFly series. 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

The second generation aircraft, the more advanced BlackFly v1 first flew in August 2014; Leng then 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 2014: BlackFly v1 first flight
  • February 2015: First 2-minute hover with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload
  • February 2016: BlackFly v2 takes flight
  • November 2016: First 30 mile flight with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload
  • September 2017: 10,000 miles flown with 200 lbs (90 kgs) payload (minimum 30 mile flights)
  • October 2017: BlackFly v3 first flight of pre-production model
  • March 2018: BlackFly v2 first manned flight
  • September 2018: 20,000 miles flown with 200 lbs (90 kgs) 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: Passenger eVTOL proof of concept aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Maximum pilot height: 6 ft (1.83 m)
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Empty weight: 237 lbs (107.5 kg)
  • Maximum payload weight: 160 lb (72.6 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 397 lb (180 kg)
  • Propellers: 8 propellers
  • Electric motors: 8 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Epoxy-impregnated carbon fiber composite
  • Fuselage width: 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m)
  • Fuselage length: 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m)
  • Fuselage height: 3 ft 9 in (1.1 m)
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit
  • Wings: Tandem wings
  • Landing gear: Lands on the bottom of the fuselage
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) means having multiple propellers (or electric ducted fans) and multiple electric motors on an aircraft so if one or more propellers (or electric ducted fans) or some electric motors fail, the other working propellers (or electric ducted fans) and electric motors can safely land the aircraft. DEP provides safety through redundancy for its passengers or cargo.

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