An autonomous eVTOL passenger aircraft developed by Shanghai-based Autoflight has successfully completed its first flight test. The company expects it to make a maiden flight soon and has already received a number of pre-sale orders. It expects to achieve airworthiness certification in 2024.
The all-electric, fixed-wing V1500M has a MTOW of 1,500 kg and a passenger flight range of 155 miles. Lift is provided by eight electric rotors, and two sets of tails thrusters convert the aircraft to forward cruise flight. The smart cabin can seat up to four passengers. There is no pilot, but initial operations allow for a safety officer on board, according to the existing airworthiness regulations and policies of each country. As technology progresses and regulatory policies adapt, so the security personnel seats can be given over to passengers or additional baggage.
The fuselage is made of a single mould of high-strength carbon fibre composites, giving the aircraft light weight and high rigidity, and easier maintenance. It is equipped with a multi-redundant flight control system and optional parachute.
In the four years since the company was established, Autoflight has achieved design finalisation, carbon fibre fuselage mould making, a debut at the Zhuhai Air Show, bench testing and series commissioning of flight control avionics, and then the first take off and landing test.
The head of the V1500M project says: “We will start the V1500M fixed-wing conversion test soon, to verify the conversion from rotary to fixed-wing flight mode. Through various flight tests, we will advance the development of the V1500M at full speed and strive to obtain airworthiness certification in 2024. With such an intelligent, environmentally friendly, safe and reliable self-driving eVTOL passenger aircraft, we hope that everyone can experience the convenience and joy of flying, and we can make future travel more free and enjoyable.”
As well as headquarters in Shanghai, Autoflight deploys a manned flight control R&D centre in Munich, Germany; plans to build an operation and maintenance centre in the US; has a solution centre in Shenzhen and has a large scale composite material mass production manufacturing base in Jining, Shandong. It has developed a range of eVTOL products for autonomous cargo transport and intelligent manned aircraft and has received $100 million in Series A funding.