Aircraft

Autoflight shows off its first eVTOL lift & cruise transition test

Autoflight shows off its first eVTOL lift & cruise transition test
The Prosperity I proof of concept hit over 120 mph on its first transition flight
The Prosperity I proof of concept hit over 120 mph on its first transition flight
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The Prosperity I proof of concept hit over 120 mph on its first transition flight
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The Prosperity I proof of concept hit over 120 mph on its first transition flight
Looking forward from the front of the cabin, you can see the front wing and its control surfaces
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Looking forward from the front of the cabin, you can see the front wing and its control surfaces
The Autoflight team at the test facility
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The Autoflight team at the test facility
The Prosperity I POC lifts off for its first transition flight
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The Prosperity I POC lifts off for its first transition flight
The aircraft is a lift & cruise design with 8 lift props and one pu
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The aircraft is a lift & cruise design with 8 lift props and two pusher props
Autoflight hopes to be certified in China and Europe by 2025
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Autoflight hopes to be certified in China and Europe by 2025
The final Prosperity I aircraft is expected to have a 155-mile range and 125 mph top speed
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The final Prosperity I aircraft is expected to have a 155-mile range and 125 mph top speed
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Chinese eVTOL company Autoflight has released video of its first unmanned transition flight, moving from vertical lift to wing-supported cruise at speed. The video is a perfect demonstration of the common "lift & cruise" style of eVTOL design.

It's a significant milestone for Autoflight, which has opened an office in Germany recently in order to take aim at the European air taxi market. The aircraft, Prosperity I, is a 4-seat piloted design that promises a range of 155 miles (250 km) at cruise speeds up to 124 mph (200 km/h).

It's a lift & cruise design, with the passenger pod supported on a pair of large wings. These feature long propulsion pods running front to back, which hold three large lift props apiece, and a fourth pair are elevated to a higher plane to keep the aircraft compact. The propulsion pods are linked at the front by an additional front wing, complete with control surfaces, and there's a pusher prop at the rear of the cabin for horizontal flight.

The final Prosperity I aircraft is expected to have a 155-mile range and 125 mph top speed
The final Prosperity I aircraft is expected to have a 155-mile range and 125 mph top speed

Today's video shows the proof of concept climbing vertically to 150 m (492 ft), then turning slightly and engaging the pusher prop. At around 97 knots (112 mph, 180 km/h), the transition to winged flight is complete, and you can see the lift props coming to a stop, then slowly orienting themselves longitudinally for minimum drag as the plane continues flying on the wing. It sure looks like you'll be able to feel it when those lift props shut down, although it's nothing compared to turbulence on an airliner.

Similarly, when it transitions back to VTOL mode, you can see the plane pitch back quite pointedly as the lift props work to slow it down for what's eventually a smooth and gentle autonomous landing. The team says the aircraft maxed out at 123 mph (198 km/h) on this flight, which was launched from Autoflight's test facility in JiangSu Province sometime in January.

There's a long way to go yet before certification, which Autoflight hopes to achieve both with China's CAAC and Europe's EASA by 2025. In a press kit, the company lays out its claim to supremacy over other eVTOL companies: "the existing solutions are either low performance or high complexity. Both approaches lead to high costs per passenger mile. Furthermore most players tap into traditional aviation supply chains, which are not designed for VTOL, and thus result in unreasonable costs."

The aircraft is a lift & cruise design with 8 lift props and one pu
The aircraft is a lift & cruise design with 8 lift props and two pusher props

By using a simple lift & cruise concept with solid performance figures, manufacturing most of its own parts, hitting the market relatively early and deploying a "powerful business model (combination of high ~70% margin aircraft sales and ultrahigh ~95% margin per usage software fees/maintenance," Autoflight believes it should be bringing in US$100 billion a year by ~2031, for a valuation over a trillion dollars.

Confidence is clearly not lacking here. Let's see how they go! Check out the video below.

AutoFlight’s Prosperity I Air taxi Achieves Proof of Concept Transition Test Flight

Source: Autoflight

View gallery - 7 images
8 comments
8 comments
PhilippeHolthuizen
That's an impressive video! Seems like they are taking a good approach, glad to see another realistic contender.
dan
wonderful! doubt about cost saving production. looks really complex comparing with an R44 or so. I am very curious about real numbers: initial cost, TBO of main components, battery life, range-reserve time etc. who ever knows (not dreams), please publish!
Towerman
Congratulations ! This looks promising, i would have liked to see the wings fold up for more inner city travel abilities in hover mode, however there will be others filling that niche so just keep going it is looking good.

@Dan
Trolling yet again i see, What looks complex ?? Open your eyes ;) I don't see anything complex. it's direct drive motors making it take off and direct drive pushers pushing it forward ! Nothing complex about that.

On the other hand a helicopter have 1000s of mechanical parts that can wear out, including linkages and gearboxes as well as HIGH maintenance requirements ! This AutoFlight company is KISS at it's best !
HokenPoke
Well Done, it flies and seemingly quite well. It seems to be like a very cost effective solution.

A bit boxy and awkward looking i know they did their best to smooth out the curves it can definitely be seen well done for the effort. And not as compact, but certainly a viable commercial contender !
Tommo
At last..!! A great video to watch. I liked the technical comments by the ground control team, it was much better than watching some slick CGI concept video with crappy annoying music. I'll be following this to see how it progresses.
ljaques
Why can't =anyone= in the EVTOL world make a decent video with actual BACKGROUND music instead of blaring foreground music which drowns out the narrator and props?
What strikes me about this bird is that there are so many beautiful and flowing shapes which, when lumped together, produce a less-than-pretty bird.
christopher
No auto-rotate to a soft landing on launch failures I notice? Good luck getting any certification to launch form anyplace near people - like in any city...
Towerman
@ljaques

Joby did precisely that... welcome to the future...which is now ;)