The Japanese eVTOL developer SkyDrive has completed an initial phase of manned flight testing with its prototype aircraft, the company confirmed this week.
SkyDrive said that manned test flights between December 2019 and March 2020 confirmed the controllability and flight stability of the test aircraft, concluding the vehicle’s technical verification phase. The next stage of development will leverage insights gained during manned operation to further refine the design of the aircraft.
The Tokyo-based company, established by members of the Cartivator group, simultaneously announced the appointment of Nobuo Kishi as chief technology officer. Kishi — who served as chief engineer of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and held other top posts with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation — will lead certification efforts for the aircraft, with the goal of taking it to market in 2023.
“Throughout my career spanning four decades, I have gained considerable experience and knowledge in type certification, safety verification, project management, and system integration,” Kishi stated in a press release.
“I would like to help take the industry forward by introducing a lean development process, while ensuring the same degree of safety as conventional aircraft, implementing advanced components, and employing innovative mass production processes learned from various industrial sectors.”
SkyDrive, which conducted its first unmanned test flight in December 2018, sees applications for its eVTOL aircraft not only as air taxis, but also in emergency transportation and disaster relief. The company also began accepting reservations for a cargo drone in December 2019.
SkyDrive’s investors include Drone Fund, Z Corporation, STRIVE III Limited Liability Partnership, ITOCHU Technology Ventures, Inc. and Energy & Environment Investment, Inc.