Shanghai-based air taxi company AutoFlight has released a video of its Prosperity I electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft completing its first proof of concept test flight involving the all-critical vertical-to-horizontal transitioning phase.
Designed for use as an eVTOL air taxi, AutoFlight’s Prosperity I successfully completed its first-ever live transitioning during a test outing in China’s JiangSu province. Today the company said the trial took place in January, with the craft rising to an altitude of 150 meters and attaining speeds of 123 mph. Slated to enter service in 2025, the piloted plane will carry three passengers at a maximum of 200 mph over a 250 km range.
A relative newcomer to the urban air mobility (UAM) sector, AutoFlight has taken its Prosperity I eVTOL from the drawing board to test flight stage with remarkable speed and has made gaining certification for the air taxi its top priority.
Last month the company founded a European unit with the task of accelerating development and preparation of the craft for European Union approval. Mark Henning, an Airbus veteran recruited to lead the Germany-based AutoFlight Europe, says the progress of testing – and successful transitioning trial – has been as astonishing as it is essential to the craft gaining certification on schedule.
“Achieving a smooth transition phase in record time, from prototype to flight, underlines the caliber of the engineering team we have at AutoFlight, and gives great confidence as we progress into the development phase and layout plans,” he said. “The simplicity of AutoFlight’s design lies in our patented ‘Lift and Cruise’ configuration, which combines superior range and safety with low technical complexity, making it affordable to manufacture, maintain, and operate as an air taxi.”
Vertical flight for Prosperity I’s proof of concept test required eight rotors to lift the 3,307 pound, state-of-the-art vehicle aloft. Once it reached an altitude of 150 meters, and an airspeed between 100 and 110 mph, the craft’s fixed wing component provided sufficient lift for the top rotors to stop spinning while the propellers on the rear transitioned the aircraft into forward horizontal motion.
“The team and I are thrilled to have cracked the smooth transition phase of eVTOL flight, unlocking the skies for Prosperity I and our commercial products,” said AutoFlight CEO Tian Yu, who was present for the successful test flight. “We are confident we have a good design underpinned by sound engineering, and delighted to see that the transition was smooth, safe and seamless.”
AutoFlight was so encouraged by Prosperity I passing the vital transitioning challenge that it drew up a list of the kind of short-haul air taxi routes its eVTOL may fly following its scheduled 2025 entry into service. In the UK, those included:
· Heathrow Airport to Battersea Helipad – 20km – 15 minutes
· London City Airport to Luton Airport – 50 km – 25 minutes
· Battersea Helipad to Biggin Hill Airport – 20 km – 15 minutes
· Cambridge to Battersea Helipad – 85 km – 35 minutes
· Birmingham to Manchester – 110 km – 45 minutes
· Bristol to Battersea Helipad – 160 km – 60 minutes
· Goodwood Racecourse to Battersea Helipad – 80 km – 35 minutes
· Battersea Helipad to The City – 12k m – 15 minutes
· Oxford to Battersea Helipad – 80 km – 35 minutes
· Glasgow to Edinburgh – 66 km – 30 minutes
· Glasgow to Belfast – 177 km – 65 minutes
· Ascot Racecourse to Battersea Helipad – 35 km – 20 minutes
AutoFlight’s UAM project is backed by a $100 million investment by next-generation mobility investor Team Global.