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SkyDrive teams with JAXA on eVTOL wind tunnel testing

The Japanese eVTOL developer SkyDrive is working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on aerodynamic studies for its “flying car” now under development.

Skydrive JAXA wind tunnel
Although SkyDrive’s initial wind tunnel testing was focused on a candidate rotor design, the company expects to use JAXA’s facility to test its full eVTOL aircraft in the future. SkyDrive Photo

As Japan’s national aerospace research and development agency, JAXA has the largest aerospace wind tunnel test facility in the country. SkyDrive — which is developing a compact two-seat eVTOL that it hopes to deploy in time for the Osaka Expo in 2025 — recently used one of JAXA’s wind tunnels to collect data on a candidate eVTOL rotor. According to a press release, it was the first time JAXA’s facility was used in support of an eVTOL program.

“JAXA’s wind tunnel test facility is indispensable for the development of aircraft and most of the aircraft developed in Japan have undergone wind tunnel testing at this facility,” stated Nobuo Kishi, SkyDrive’s chief technology officer. “We are certain that SkyDrive’s testing at this facility brings our flying car under development one step closer to becoming a safe and reliable aircraft.”

As SkyDrive noted, understanding how air flows around the rotors of its eVTOL aircraft will be critical for optimizing their shape and revolution speed for maximum efficiency and minimum noise. Although SkyDrive has conducted relevant studies in the past, the company said that the wind tunnel testing conducted with JAXA will be key to advancing its design efforts.

“The data obtained with the cooperation of JAXA will be useful and helpful in the design and development of the rotor to deliver the aircraft specifications expected by society,” said Kishi. “The testing was conducted on the rotor itself, but we hope to expand the scope of cooperation to include aerodynamic design and analysis of the entire aircraft.”

This expanded cooperation could include analysis using computational fluid dynamics and analysis of flight data in addition to wind tunnel testing using a prototype aircraft, SkyDrive said.

The company has already conducted crewed test flights with its SD-03 eVTOL prototype, including a public demonstration at Toyota City in August last year.

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