Overair, developer of an electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with significantly reduced noise output, has received $145 million in additional funding to support its push to test fly a prototype of its Butterfly plane next year.
The financial infusion comes from existing backers Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace, South Korean companies specializing in precision communications and aircraft technologies. That added support will initially be used by Overair to reach its objective of completing its Butterfly prototype, then making the eVTOL craft’s first flight in the second half of 2023.
As that effort progresses, Overair will rely on the business expertise and tech of its two investors to lay the groundwork for its communications, commercialization, and operational structures. As the three partners expand their research exchanges in Butterfly’s development, meanwhile, Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace will also provide Overair electric motors and battery packs for the eVTOL aircraft.
Overair’s Butterfly is a six-seat eVTOL plane featuring four very large propellers central to the company’s proprietary optimum speed propulsion (OSP) concept. Due to their XL size, those blades spin slower than most craft require to stay aloft during hovering phases, and can be slowed even further when cruising.
That reduced rotation is designed to decrease the power drawn from the craft’s batteries while in operation, giving it extra payload capacity and power margins. It also considerably cuts Butterfly’s noise signature compared to other eVTOL, Overair says, making it ideal for non-invasive urban transport.
In addition to continued Butterfly development toward Overair’s 2023 eVTOL maiden flight target, the company is working with NASA and Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles to plan urban air mobility routing and infrastructure. Those linked activities will now kick into higher gear with the new funding and reinforced partnership with Overair’s Hanwha backers.
“This is a tremendous milestone for our growing team, and we’re extremely well positioned to deliver sustainable aerial ridesharing to the world through the development of Butterfly,” said Ben Tigner, CEO of Overair. “We’re exactly where we want to be, building a superior aircraft company with class leading mobility technology around an unrivaled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year. We’ve proven Butterfly’s propulsion system, so we’ll now begin validating Butterfly’s ability to operate safely in real-world weather conditions, carry significant payloads, and fly incredibly quietly.”
Santa Ana-based Overair was created in 2020 as the eVTOL spinoff of Karem Aircraft, with the design of its Butterfly craft finished in 2021. Earlier this year, the company successfully tested components of its OPS system in truck-loaded trials in the California desert.