Crowdfunding is usually associated with consumer goods like smartwatches and drones, but XTI Aircraft Company of Denver, Colorado is hoping to score a double first with its TriFan 600. Pitched as the first commercially certified high-speed, long-range Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) airplane that combines the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed of an airplane, it's also the first major aviation project to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign in the wake of new rules approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under development for two years, the TriFan 600 is designed as a six-seat, fixed-wing, composite-construction, fly-by-wire airplane with both VTOL capabilities and the speed and range of a conventional business jet. It would carry a pilot and five passengers at a cruising speed of 340 knots (400 mph, 644 km/h) and have a ceiling of 30,000 ft (9,000 m). Its two high-performance turboshaft engines give it a range of 800 to 1,200 mi (1,300 to 1,900 km), depending on takeoff method and payload.

Meanwhile, three ducted fans behind a sliding hatch provide vertical lift. One selling point of the aircraft is that by eliminating the need to travel to and from airports and transport passengers door-to-door (or helipad-to-helipad), it would be competitive even with faster conventional aircraft. The TriFan 600 will initially be targeted at business customers and is expected to cost from US$10 to $12 million.

According to the company, the TriFan 600 has a choice of interior fitouts, ranging from luxury business seating to medical evacuation or air ambulatory configurations.

On Tuesday, XTI Aircraft announced an equity crowdfunding campaign that the company refers to as the "first fundraising effort of its kind in aviation history." Based on new rules approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, backers can buy a stake in the company. The campaign is part of a larger fundraising effort that is also looking to attract venture capital, private equity, and high net-worth investors.

The new company boasts some high-powered officers, including Vice Chairman Jeffrey Pino, who is the former president and chief executive of Sikorsky Aircraft, board member Charlie Johnson, who is the former president of Cessna Aircraft Company, and Chief Engineer and board member Dennis Olcott, who served as chief engineer for Adam Aircraft and the PiperJet program.

If the fundraising effort is successful, the company aims to get the first proof of concept prototype completed in two-and-a-half years before building another one or two prototypes for further testing and FAA certification.

"We view equity crowdfunding as a creative way to involve everyone as true stakeholders working together to pioneer this all new way to fly," says Brody. "It's a way to turn all of our supporters into potential stockholders by providing the public a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get in early on something truly revolutionary."

The video below introduces the TriFan 600.


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