AutoFlight air taxi achieves proof of concept transition test flight

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AutoFlight, an autonomous aerial vehicle manufacturer, has announced the successful completion of 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.

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 pounds electric aircraft into the air. Once the aircraft reached an altitude of 150m  and the airspeed of 100-110mph the fixed wing part of the eVTOL generated lift.

At this point, Prosperity I entered the complex transition phase – the rotors on the top stopped spinning and locked in a streamlined position, while the propellers on the rear pushed the aircraft forward like a traditional fixed wing plane. AutoFlight said the transitions for the Prosperity I are seamless, safe and smooth thanks to the quality of the engineering and the rigorous attention to detail in the complex aerodynamics.

The successful transition test flight was achieved in January at Autoflight’s flight test area in JiangSu province, China with CEO Tian Yu, the R&D team and 40 AutoFlight staff present.

During the proof-of-concept flight Prosperity I reached heights of 150m and speeds of 123mph

Prosperity I was designed for short transfers between parts of a city, airport commutes, connecting two nearby cities or enabling trips to the countryside while avoiding traffic on the ground.

When ready for commercial flight in 2025, it is expected that a trip that takes hours by car will be reduced to about 10 minutes with Prosperity I, without being any less safe or more expensive than a car taxi ride.

Mark Henning, managing director of AutoFlight Europe, said: “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.”

This proof-of-concept is the latest developments for AutoFlight following the establishment of a European base in Augsburg, Germany and the appointment of Henning, formerly of Airbus. The company also secured US$100m investment from mobility investor Team Global.

Read more: Autoflight targets eVTOL EASA certification by 2025

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