The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Autonomous Flight is starting out with the two-seater Y6S eVTOL aircraft, but is planning a four-seat version as well as an eight-seat model that is intended for air taxi operations. All of these designs are believed to consist of two electric-powered tiltrotors on stub-wings with an aft fixed orientation, horizontal fan.

According to company founder Martin Warner, it is working on multiple designs in order to be sure of having something commercially viable, scalable and certifiable in a market that has not yet been fully defined.

As of December 2019, the company reported that it has raised around $25 million of the estimated $32 million to $35 million required to get an aircraft to market. It estimates that the program will take seven years to break even. It envisions building a number of aircraft “in the low thousands” including the Y6S, the Y6S four-seater and the AS1 8+1 seater, which it sees as more of a commercial prospect for air taxis–with the Y6S/Y6S Plus would be more for private owners.

Timeline

test flight

Autonomous Flight did not achieve its goal of achieving a first flight with the Y6S prototype by mid-2019.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Autonomous Flight has raised around two-thirds of the funds it estimates will be needed to get an aircraft into service. Company founder Martin Warner, who developed and patented color 3D desktop printers and sold the technology for a reported $50 million, is a major backer of the company himself. 

However, Autonomous Flight is lagging behind its original timetable, as it had expected to have a flying Y6S prototype by mid-2019. It is not clear what plans the company has to raise the remaining $7 million or $8 million required to complete development work.

Autonomous Flight eVTOL Models

Y6S Specifications

autonomous vtol Tiltrotor

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    2
  • Range
    80 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    72 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    ducted fan
  • Power Source
    electric
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    1,500 ft
  • Takeoff Distance
    0 ft
  • Landing Distance
    0 ft
  • Empty Weight
    n/a
  • MGTOW
    2,000 lb
  • Payload Weight
    n/a

Dimensions

  • Length
    n/a
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    n/a
  • Wingspan
    n/a

The Y6S (Y as it is Y-shaped; 6 since it has six fans, two in each shroud; and S for "sport") is designed to fly two people at 72 mph and 1,500 feet above the ground, with a range of 80 miles (68 miles net of reserve power). It has tilt-props and two wings that can support its entire 2,000-pound maximum takeoff weight in cruise, assisted by smaller rear wings.

Autonomous Flight is lagging behind its original timetable, as it had expected to have a flying Y6S prototype by mid-2019.

The Y6S will have six removable racks of Li-ion batteries–a total of 4,500 cells, and total weight 450 pounds—which can easily be swapped out.

The company estimates that a total of between $32 million and $35 million will be the total funding required to bring a vehicle to market and that it will take seven years to break even. It envisions building a number “in the low thousands” including the Y6S, the Y6S four-seater and AS1 8+1 seater, which it sees as more of a commercial prospect for air taxis–with the Y6S/Y6S Plus would be more for private owners.