Shanghai Autoflight Co. Ltd.
BAN's World GazetteerChina
China-based AutoFlight has successfully completed the proof-of-concept, transition test flight for its air taxi Prosperity I, in which the aircraft switches from a vertical take off motion to the more energy-efficient, horizontal flight and back to vertical flight, before landing. The unmanned flight took place at the company's flight test area in JiangSu province in China in the presence of CEO Tian Yu, the R&D team and 40 members of staff. The Prosperity I rose to an altitude of 150m at speeds of up to 123 mph.
Prosperity I was designed for short intracity transfers, airport commutes, intercity connections and trips to the countryside while avoiding traffic on the ground. A trip that takes hours by car should take about 10 minutes in the Prosperity I, without being any less safe or more expensive than a car taxi ride. The aircraft is expected to be ready for commercial flight in 2025.
A transition is when an aircraft moves from a vertical to horizontal motion and is one of the most challenging parts of an eVTOL flight. Vertical flight for the proof of concept for Prosperity I required eight rotors to lift the 3,307 lbs, four seat electric aircraft into the air. Once it reached an altitude of 150 metres and an airspeed of 100-110mph, the fixed wing part of the eVTOL vehicle generated lift.
This is the point at which Prosperity I entered the complex transition phase; the rotors on the top stopped spinning and locked into a streamlined position, while the propellers on the rear pushed the aircraft forward like a traditional fixed wing aircraft.
“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," says Yu. "We are confident we have a good design underpinned by sound engineering and are delighted to see that the transition was smooth, safe and seamless.”
AutoFlight Europe managing director Mark Henning adds: “Achieving a smooth transition phase in record time, from prototype to flight, underlines the calibre of the engineering team we have at AutoFlight and gives great confidence as we progress into the development phase and layout plans for our first manned aircraft, the Prosperity I. 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.”
Significant recent developments for AutoFlight include the establishment of a European base in Augsburg, Germany; the appointment of Mark Henning, formerly of Airbus, as its European managing director; as well as $100 million investment from next-generation mobility investor Team Global.