Japan’s TeTra Aviation has launched uncrewed test flights in the United States with its Mk-5, the eVTOL aircraft it plans to bring to market as a kit for home-building.
The company said it obtained a Special Airworthiness Certificate and Certificate of Waiver or Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), enabling it to commence flight testing of the Mk-5 — which has the U.S. registration number N155TA — at Byron Airport in California, between San Francisco and Stockton.
According to a company spokesperson, the flight test campaign is starting with short hovering flights of about five minutes each. During this initial phase of testing, TeTra aims to reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (just under 100 kilometers per hour) while flying at altitudes from 10 to 100 feet (3 to 30 meters).
Testing with an onboard pilot is expected to commence in December of this year in Japan, the spokesperson said. The company is aiming to deliver its first kits starting in 2022.
TeTra was one of the competitors for the GoFly Prize, a competition launched in 2017 to incentivize development of personal flying devices. Although no team has yet qualified for the $1 million grand prize, TeTra received the $100,000 Pratt & Whitney Disruptor Award for its TeTra 3 model in early 2020.
The Mk-5 has a very different lift-plus-cruise design, with tandem wings, 32 small lifting propellers, and a rear pusher-propeller for cruise flight. In late July, TeTra had its Mk-5 prototype on static display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, a popular showcase for home-built and experimental aircraft. Amateur-built models like the Mk-5 require the operator to build more than 50 percent of the aircraft. They are not subject to the same stringent certification process as commercial aircraft, but are also limited on how and where they can fly.