Aircraft

Pantuo Aviation unveils China's answer to the Lilium Jet

Pantuo Aviation unveils China'...
This is a Pantuo Pantala. It is not a Lilium. Where did you get that idea?
This is a Pantuo Pantala. It is not a Lilium. Where did you get that idea?
View 6 Images
This is a Pantuo Pantala. It is not a Lilium. Where did you get that idea?
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This is a Pantuo Pantala. It is not a Lilium. Where did you get that idea?
The Pantala's entire wings tilt to achieve VTOL operation
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The Pantala's entire wings tilt to achieve VTOL operation
22 medium-diameter ducted electric fans provide vectored propulsion
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22 medium-diameter ducted electric fans provide vectored propulsion
Cabin design includes a control stick, although Pantuo says this aircraft will be "highly autonomous"
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Cabin design includes a control stick, although Pantuo says this aircraft will be "highly autonomous"
Range over 250 km, top speed over 300 km/h
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Range over 250 km, top speed over 300 km/h
Certainly the best-looking Chinese eVTOL concept to date
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Certainly the best-looking Chinese eVTOL concept to date
View gallery - 6 images

New render images and details have emerged on our favorite Chinese "I can't believe it's not Lilium" eVTOL air taxi project. The Pantuo Pantala Concept H, out of Shanghai, might look like the Lilium, but it promises to hit faster cruise speeds.

The manta ray shape, the large rear wing with upswept tips, the front canards, the great banks of small electric jets arranged along the wings ... much of Pantuo's concept might be hard to tell apart from the beautiful Lilium Jet from Germany.

But there are key differences here. Where Lilium tilts only its propulsion pods, the Pantala is designed to tilt its whole wings. Where Lilium is running 36 tiny electric jets and pushing a small fan philosophy, Pantuo is hedging its bets with just 22 fans, each with a much larger diameter.

The benefit of larger fans, Lilium tells us, is more energy-efficient hover. The drawbacks are tougher scaling, more noise, and less efficient cruise thanks to a bit of extra drag in horizontal flight. So if this thing gets built, perhaps we'll get a chance to verify those claims.

Range over 250 km, top speed over 300 km/h
Range over 250 km, top speed over 300 km/h

Performance figures won't be immediately comparable, since Pantuo is running a standard five-seat cabin while Lilium has expanded its launch aircraft to a seven-seater. But Lilium promises a 250-plus km (155-plus mile) range at 280 km/h (175 mph), and Pantuo says the Pantala Concept H will match that range, but go faster than 300 km/h (186 mph).

That's about all the detail we've got at this stage. It should be stressed that Lilium is one of the eVTOL world's most advanced projects, with several hundred million dollars in the bank, several hundred employees, and multiple flight tests of multiple prototypes under its belt, to name a few of its achievements. Pantuo has some ripping renders here, but if they've so much as built a remote control prototype, they're not telling anyone at this point.

22 medium-diameter ducted electric fans provide vectored propulsion
22 medium-diameter ducted electric fans provide vectored propulsion

On the other hand, where EASA and the FAA are pushing an extremely cautious approach to flight testing, the Chinese authorities seem to be letting eHang off the leash early to take the public around in manned flights all over the country.

So perhaps the runway for Pantuo will be somewhat clearer than what Lilium is facing with the European authorities – not that runways will be matters of great concern to the eVTOL sector, although both of these aircraft seem capable of using them where they're available for efficient conventional takeoff and landing.

Check out a short video below.

A Vision Beyond Time

Source: Pantuo Aviation

View gallery - 6 images
11 comments
11 comments
dan
larger prop diameter with a smaller disc load is certainly a good idea in order to become a little more efficient.
Liviu Giurca
So, is similar with Aurora LightningStrike concept but with pure electric propulsion.
With no thrust amplification is hard to believe will work efficiently.
jerryd
While going fewer, larger ones is better, better than nothing is still nothing. Again moving a small amount of air fast is very inefficient and you can't afford to waste power in an EV.
You need to move a large amount slower can take 25% of the power/lb of lift.
Not mentioned is such ducts have drag themselves. There is a reason helicopters have only 1 or 2 large rotors, 5x the lift/kw. You can't give up that much energy and be viable with multi-copters, etc.
EH
Bigger props - more efficient. The direct limit on efficiency of lift, hp/ton-force, is the speed of the airflow. One surprising thing is that power/force( = inverse efficiency) = velocity, and 160hp/(2000 lbf) = 30 mph (/exactly/30 mph!). Bigger fans, area going up as the square of diameter, have lower velocities of airflow to needed achieve the same lift, efficiency turns out to be directly proportional to fan diameter. You need a 33.6 ft fan to lift a ton at 30mph downwash from the fan, but only one a quarter the diameter to lift that much with 120 mph air, but it uses four times the power, 640hp.

Tilting the whole wings looks good, but they should put control surfaces in the fan air-streams, likely best around the perimeters of the duct outlets, for better agility.
Chris__
I don't understand the lift aero-dynamics when it is in forward flight; maybe it is more complicated than my simple understanding? On the Lilium, the fans are on the top rear edge of the wing, pulling air across the top of the wing (the lifting surface), which seems like it would help laminar flow over the lift surface and improve efficiency. Where is the lift generated on this arrangement? It doesn't look like the top surface of the wings is designed to generate lift from it's shape, and I don't think you can generate lift on the inside of the fan ducts? What am I missing?
Gabor Pauler
I can see that the largest e-vtol manufacturer is still the PhotoShop company...
dan
@jerryd and other writers: Thank you for the helicopter example. there is a reason why helicopters use 1 big rotor and not 8 or 32 tiny ones. it is hard to believe that most eVTOL-concepts ignore that fact based on simple physics. if an aircraft needs to become more ecological, it cannot have small props and a high disc load. concept like Lilium are highly inefficient. combined with electric power supply they create an investor's nightmare. aviation must become more eco-friendly. with simple, affordable and ecological products, what about gyrocopters, can they help?
EH
If those are 22 ducts with 24 in props, then the total area is equivalent to about a 9.4 ft single fan, and the MTOW will be something like a minimum of 4200 lbs, giving a power requirement of 1250hp, and a need for over 60 kWh of energy to sustain a 4-min hover, which would weigh something like 700 lbs by itself. Then more battery for cruise. It's not impossible, but not easy. This is why having some hybrid generation onboard from a small turbo-generator (e.g. APU( can make huge difference, especially if it can sustain cruise power + some recharge,
WeiDalong
It looks a lot like the Canadian Blackfly.
Many commenters below seem to be very knowledgeable people about what it takes to makes these things fly.
I wonder if you guys think the guy that developed the Blackfly got it right. Sure loos like it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI8AemQcclY
MQ
Gotta wonder uf there is any parent protection to any of these concepts - many current "concepts" were explored and discarded in the age of space and gas turbine.

Now reanimated distributed electric propulsion.

The key design feature of a configuration like this could/ should be variable nozzle geometry - have they got this going?? Large fans TICK, high pressure ratio DUBIOUS, Variable Nozzle ??
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