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XTI Aircraft TriFan 600

 

TriFan 600
XTI Aircraft Company
Englewood, Colorado, USA
www.xtiaircraft.com

Founded in 2012 by David Brody in the USA, Brody's goal is to successfully make and sell hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing long-range planes for personal and commercial use. The goal of the company is to make air travel as efficient as possible, taking off and landing door to door, instead of airport to airport, to make air travel as clean as possible and to increase the safety of air travel. 

XTI Aircraft unveiled its TriFan 600 VTOL in August 2015 with a well-publicized equity crowdfunding (see “Industry Briefs,” Vertiflite, Nov/Dec 2015). The  six seat fixed-wing airplane holds six people, one pilot and five passengers, and has a cruise speed of 345 mph (555 km/h) with a VTOL range of 771.50 m (1,240 km), or a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) range of 1,367 m (2,200 km). The aircraft has three ducted fans used for VTOL flight and uses two ducted fans for forward flight.

The aircraft has hybrid-electric powertrain using a turbine engine to generate electricity for the ducted fans which are powered by electric motors, and for the rest of the aircraft. As electric powertrains mature, the company will be able to reconfigure the powertrain with hydrogen fuel cells to create electricity. In addition, when solid state batteries have enough density to power the plane, solid state batteries can  used to power the TriFan airplane. 

Using three ducted fans, the TriFan 600 lifts off vertically and in seconds the two wing fans rotate forward for a seamless transition to high-speed flight. Within just 90 seconds, the airplane reaches cruise speed — where the lift is provided by the wings just like every other fixed-wing airplane. The fuselage-mounted fan, no longer needed, closes up. The airplane flies directly to its destination and reverses the process. Landing vertically right where it needs to be — wherever there’s a clear helipad-sized paved surface. The aircraft has tricycle wheeled retractable landing gear. 

An article by XTI Aircraft published in November 2020 included a diagram of an eight passenger configuration of the Trifan 600. In the same article, XTI reaffirms its commitment to the hybrid-electric approach to the development of fixed wing aircraft, which it believes will allow faster and smoother market entry. Specifically, they believe that the benefits of hybrid aircraft give them a competitive edge commercially, due to reduced emissions over conventional powertrains and better energy efficiency over all-electric aircraft.

The new XTI chief executive Bob LaBelle, formerly the CEO of AgustaWestland North America, announced in the March/April 2017 issue of Vertiflite that the TriFan 600 would feature a hybrid-electric drive system. Additionally, it was announced Trek Aerospace would partner on this project, providing top-of-the-line fans, extending the aircraft's maximum range and increasing endurance.

The company is currently testing a 65%-scale technology demonstrator powered by a single HTS900 turboshaft engine with first flight conducted on May 2, 2019. A full-sized prototype was planned for 2020, but testing and development has been delayed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

XTI Aircraft's first test flight of its 65% scale prototype of the TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft (unmanned and tethered) took place on Thursday, May 2, 2019 around 6:00 p.m. at the Placerville Airport in Placerville, California, USA. The test flights continued through May 3rd with multiple controlled takeoffs, hovers and landings which tested and validated the electric motors, battery power system, ducted fan propulsion flight controls and other electrical systems and instrumentation. The company released a short video with footage of the demonstrator assembly and hover testing.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL airplane and future eVTOL airplane (when technology matures the aircraft's powertrain can be converted to use hydrogen fuel cells or 100% batteries)
  • Piloting: 1 pilot with fly-by-wire controls
  • Capacity: 6 people including the pilot
  • Maximum cruise speed: 345 mph (555 km/h)
  • Maximum cruise altitude: 29,000 ft (8,839 meters)
  • VTOL maximum range: 770 m (1,240 km)
  • Conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) range: 1,367 m (2,200 km)
  • Maximum vertical takeoff weight: 5,300 lb (2,404 kg)
  • Maximum short takeoff weight: 6,300 lb (2,858 kg)
  • Empty weight: 3,500 lb (1,588 kg)
  • Vertical takeoff, useful load: 1,800 lb (816 kg)
  • Short takeoff, useful load: 2,800 lb (1,270 kg)
  • Propellers: 3 ducted fans
  • Electric Motors: 3 electric motors to power the ducted fans (there are other electric motors to turn the ducted fans and for the retractable landing gear)
  • Power source: Turbine engine (as technology matures, aircraft can be outfitted with hydrogen fuel cells and solid state batteries). The aircraft also has battery packs which are used as supplemental power during vertical flight and are recharged during flight.
  • Fuel capacity:  125 gallons (473 liters)
  • Wing span: 37.7 ft (11.5 m)
  • Length: 38.7 ft (11.8 m)
  • Ducted fan diameter: 5.9 ft (1.8 m)
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Windows: Slightly larger windows than a conventional private luxury plane
  • Wings: Mid-fuselage wing
  • Landing gear: Retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • These specifications are estimates and can change overtime
  • Safety features. The aircraft has a whole-aircraft ballistic parachute, in case of emergency. The aircraft can land conventionally on a runway or road, in the event of an emergency. The aircraft will be certified for IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) operations so it can fly in inclement weather, including known icing. The aircraft will also be equipped with advanced safety features such as sophisticated autopilot/computerized controls for takeoff and landing, collision avoidance technologies and state-of-the-art avionics.

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