While plenty of money is being pumped into efforts to create a so-called “flying taxi” for viable urban mobility services, a startup founded in Japan three years ago is intent on creating a personal electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) machine for solo flights.
The latest version of TeTra Aviation’s single-seater recently took to the skies in a test flight at Byron Airport about 50 miles east of San Francisco, with the 32-rotor Mk-5 aircraft captured soaring through the air in a video (below) posted on YouTube.
This particular test flight, which appeared to go without a hitch, was operated remotely and had no one on board, but the next one will be flown by a pilot in the cockpit.
Designed to fly at speeds of up to 100 mph (160 kph), TeTra’s aircraft has a range of 100 miles (160 km) and can carry a single person weighing up to 250 pounds (113 kg).
The startup says it has already taken orders for its aircraft, which it hopes to start selling toward the end of next year. Potential customers are invited to inquire about pricing.
But take note — TeTra’s eVTOL aircraft isn’t for aviation amateurs, as you’ll need a pilot’s license to fly it. Oh, and it comes in kit form, too, so you’ll have to put it together yourself — and then have it inspected by an official from the Federal Aviation Administration to check that it’s airworthy.
The efforts of Tokyo-based TeTra received a boost last year when it picked up a $100,000 award from U.S. aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney as part of the Boeing-backed GoFly contest, an initiative launched in 2017 to encourage the development of personal flying machines.
But while TeTra is targeting its vehicle for personal use, a slew of companies big and small are working to design similar eVTOL aircraft for city-based flying taxi services.
Regulators will of course have the final say, but with advances in technology allowing for safer and more efficient flights of such vehicles, and efforts being made to create a robust traffic control service to handle the aircraft, some believe it won’t be too long before folks are zipping across town in the diminutive flying machines.
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