A satellite dish-like aircraft that will allow its pilot to whizz through the skies at up to 160 miles per hour has completed its first untethered flight test.
The full-scale electric ZEVA Aero, created by Tacoma, Washington-based firm ZEVA, performed a series of unmanned flight tests in rural Pierce County on January 9.
It completed four flights, totalling more than four minutes of controlled hovering, simulated taxiing manoeuvres at slow speeds and limited vertical climb manoeuvres.
The vehicle is defined as a vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which can take off straight up into the air, reducing the need for runway space.
The company calls ZEVA Aero a ‘personal flying machine’ that can transition from an upright ‘hover mode’ to ‘forward flight mode’ where the passenger faces downwards as they zoom through the air in a ‘Superman-like trajectory’.
The patent-pending design is expected to be available for pre-order for consumers for a $5,000 (£3,650) deposit as early as spring this year, with an eventual price tag for the first production units estimated up to $250,000 (£182,000).
Pictured is ZEVA Aero in its upright ‘hover mode’ orientation during the testing on January 9. When manned, the single passenger will be able to see out of the window at the top
In forward flight mode, the aircraft will tilt towards a horizontal orientation, giving him or her unrestricted views of the ground below during a ‘Superman-like trajectory’
ZEVA AERO SPECS
– Power: 100% electric
– Range: 50 miles (best in class)
– Speed: 160 mph cruise
– Zero emissions
– Vertical take off and landing
The January 9 flight is part of a rigorous test program to achieve certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
‘This is a huge inflection point for ZEVA as we join an exclusive set of proven flying eVTOL platforms, and a testament to the relentless hard work and ingenuity of our entire team over the past two and half years,’ said Stephen Tibbitts, CEO of ZEVA.
‘We are dissecting our learnings from our critical first taxiing flight, which is a direct result of the support we’ve received from our investors and community, leading us to bring in additional talent to spearhead this historic moment.
‘We are eager to continue to our next stage of hover flight testing on our road to certification and eventual autonomous flight allowing anyone, not just pilots, to access zero-emission point-to-point travel.’
The firm says: ‘ZERO is a new class of aircraft that blends the best features of multi-copter with streamlined wing-body for improved range and efficiency’
Its compact airframe is designed for a single pilot and is small enough to fit in a standard automobile parking space
ZEVA Aero’s compact airframe is designed for a single pilot and is small enough to fit in a standard automobile parking space.
The vehicle uses eight zero-emission electric motor-driven propellers to get airborne.
When in upright ‘hover mode’, the single passenger will be sat upright and able to see out of the window at the top.
But in forward flight mode, the aircraft will tilt towards a horizontal orientation, giving him or her unrestricted views of the ground below, like the Galactica ride at Alton Towers.
For the tests on January 9, the aircraft stayed in an upright position as it lifted off from the ground and landed safely.
The major milestone for the Tacoma-based startup occured in rural Pierce County, Washington, on Sunday, January 9th, 2022 as part of its rigorous test program to achieve FAA airworthiness certification
‘ZEVA Aero successfully conducted multiple take offs and landings,’ the firm said. ‘The aircraft performed perfectly!’
In future, tests will involve a human passenger in the cockpit and flight in the more adventurous near-horizontal orientation.
‘ZEVA will continue hover flight tests and advance to transition flight testing this spring to fine-tune the unique Superman-like trajectory of the aircraft design,’ the firm says.
A scaled-down version of the aircraft, just one-sixth of its actual size, completed flights in the horizontal orientation back in 2019.
FUTURISTIC FLYING HYPERCAR DESIGNED FOR INNER CITY TRAVEL COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL TEST FLIGHT IN DUBAI
A futuristic flying ‘hypercar’ designed for inner city travel that could reach speeds of 135 miles per hour at 3,000 feet has completed a successful test flight in Dubai.
London-based startup Bellwether Industries completed its test flight of the fully-electric Volar eVTOL prototype in November 2021, but has revealed footage of the test in January
The futuristic half-scale version flew at an altitude of 13 feet (4 metres) with a speed of 40 kilometres per hour (25 miles per hour), according to the firm.
The Bellwether Volar eVTOL prototype has been designed for private owners as a replacement for cars, freeing up space on the ground for cyclists and pedestrians and alleviating congestion, but it could also provide on-demand transport much like an Uber.
It plans to have a full-scale prototype to be ready and tested by 2023. Availability of the final model is expected in 2028 for on-demand transport and 2030 for private ownership, which would allow users to fly to work for a luxury commute.
The electric vehicle has a hidden propulsion system featuring ducted fans, avoiding any exposed spinning blades or a large wingspan.
It would charge just like an electric vehicle does on land – at dedicated charging points – although it will have to rely on a ‘comprehensive infrastructure and transport system’ to avoid falling out the sky when the charge is used up, the firm said.