Shanghai-based eVTOL developer AutoFlight has confirmed key specifications of the V1500M, the fully electric air taxi design it unveiled last month at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai.
The winged aircraft has a lift-plus-cruise design, with eight lifting propellers for vertical take-offs and landings and two pusher props at the rear for forward flight. AutoFlight is targeting a fully loaded range of 250 kilometers (155 miles) and a cruise speed of 200 km/h (125 mph).
Standing just over three meters (10 feet) tall, with a length of 10.3 m (around 34 feet) and a wingspan of 12.8 m (42 feet), the aircraft will have a maximum take-off weight of 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) and be able to carry three or four passengers. Although AutoFlight expects that initial operations will require a safety pilot, the aircraft is being designed for fully autonomous flight.
AutoFlight said that a V1500M prototype will make its first flight in the “very near future,” as the company works toward certification of the aircraft by 2024.
“The V1500M is a milestone — not only for AutoFlight but also for the global development of the urban air mobility,” AutoFlight founder and CEO Tian Yu stated in a press release. “Our company is committed to developing safe and reliable passenger eVTOL aircraft and helping to create a better mobility future.”
AutoFlight said the V1500M’s redundant systems should enable the aircraft to make a safe landing even in the event of a propeller failure. It will also be equipped with a whole-aircraft parachute “designed to act as the last line of safety.”
AutoFlight is the developer of various eVTOL cargo drones, including the V400 it unveiled last year. These logistics drones have now accumulated over 10,000 hours of flight time “and been tested in all kinds of extreme conditions,” the company said.
For the V1500M, AutoFlight will draw on this experience as well as its more than 200 patents for technologies including electric motors, electronic control systems, and lightweight carbon-fiber composite materials. The company will also be buoyed by a US$100 million Series A funding round, announced last month, specifically to support its development of passenger air taxis.
“Following our cargo-to-passenger-strategy we go ahead step-by-step but very straight forward,” stated Tian Yu.