California-based eVTOL developer Overair has received funding of $145 million from ultra-precision communications and aircraft technology companies Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace. With this new investment, Overair remains on track to fly its all-electric experimental prototype in the second half of 2023.
Hanwha's continued investment in Overair not only fuels the ongoing development of its Butterfly eVTOL but will also allow Overair to lay the groundwork for commercialising its mobility technology. In addition to its investment, Hanwha will also provide electric motors and battery packs for Overair's prototypes as the two companies expand their R&D co-operation.
"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," says Overair co-founder and CEO Ben Tigner. "We're exactly where we want to be, building a superior company with class leading mobility technology around an unrivalled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year. We've proven the Butterfly's propulsion system, so we'll now begin validating the Butterfly's ability to operate safely in real-world weather conditions, carry significant payloads and fly incredibly quietly."
The six seat Butterfly is designed to take off and land vertically. Its advanced propulsion system is derived from decades of military VTOL programmes led by Abe Karem. Thanks to this legacy of proprietary engineering, the Butterfly's propulsion is extremely efficient and will give it the broadest flight envelope and smallest sound footprint of any aircraft in the burgeoning industry. Specifically, the Butterfly's unique Optimum Speed Propulsion (OSP) uses four large propellers that spin slowly when hovering, and even more slowly when cruising. They draw only a fraction of the available motor power, giving the Butterfly extra payload capacity and power margins to operate safely in challenging environmental conditions. Additionally, the slow-turning props produce little sound, which will allow the Butterfly to operate in high-density areas with noise sensitive communities.
"Hanwha's basic principles for new business development are to focus on disruptive innovation that can uproot and shift the market and technology trends based on its core capabilities. Hanwha is selecting game changer businesses that can really excel in the future, and eVTOL vehicles are one of these game changers,'" says Hanwah Systems CEO Sungchul Eoh. "With regard to our investment decision in Overair, we decided that the company had the numerous patents and core technologies required to develop a highly efficient, low noise vehicle. We therefore felt that Overair would be capable of developing a superb vehicle that can satisfy the requirements for safety, efficiency, speed, low noise and environmentally-friendly features. We see the potential of Overair's Optimum Speed Propulsion system, and we will continue to work together to find synergies and bring this breakthrough technology to the world."
As the company continues to work toward FAA certification, Overair is also working with NASA and Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles to develop urban air mobility (UAM) routing and infrastructure.