Full-scale Air One eVTOL prototype unveiled at the Kentucky Derby
An interesting intersection between the future and past of human mobility this weekend, as Israeli company Air chose the Kentucky Derby to debut the full-size prototype of its Air One, a two-seat, buy 'n' fly personal eVTOL aircraft focused on fun.
The Air One, as we discussed last October, is a smart-looking coaxial octacopter seating two side by side under a panoramic glass cabin. Its eight electric motors can deliver a peak of 771 horsepower (575 kW) to its medium-diameter, three-blade props, giving it a maximum payload of 441 lb (200 kg).
Despite its conspicuous wings, the One has no dedicated cruise mode per se; there's no forward propulsion in evidence, and indeed the wings are tilted at an angle that'll allow them to generate lift with the aircraft tilted forward. This keeps the flight dynamics relatively simple – pilots should only require around 16 hours of training – and the price relatively cheap.
Speed suffers a little as a result; Air says this thing will cruise at 100 mph (161 km/h) with a max speed of 155 mph (250 km/h). However, the claimed range and endurance are very impressive for a manned multicopter – Air claims an hour of flight time, and a range up to 110 miles (177 km), with rapid charging enabling 0-100 percent top-ups in just one hour.
Having flown a number of prototypes up to 60 percent scale, Air has now sent a full-size prototype out to the USA, with another being built in Tel Aviv that's set to begin flight testing in the coming months. The company's timeline suggests it'll begin manned flight tests in Q3 this year, ahead of a "certification prototype" in 2023 and the first customer deliveries in 2024.
Yes, customer deliveries. Air isn't pitching this as a commercial air taxi, it's offering the One as a personal pleasure machine that can roll in and out of a garage with its wheels and fold-back wings, or roll around on a trailer if you don't have a property you can launch from directly. Conceived as a "sportscar of the sky," you can put down a pre-order for well under the price of the cheapest new Ferrari.
Indeed, if you'd put eleven bucks on the trifecta for this year's Derby and got lucky, you could've slapped down US$150,000 for this cheeky little aircraft and still have a spare US$13,577.70 to blow on mint juleps and the associated dry cleaning costs.
Air will be taking this prototype to a number of events around the United States, and in between engagements, it'll sit in Aerauto's showroom at Witham Field Airport in Florida, where the team will be happy to sell you one in person.
Check it out in the video below.
Source: Air eVTOL