The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Jetcopter first unveiled its concept for a lift fan aircraft in November 2018. The design marks a significant departure from both existing helicopters and the majority of eVTOL models currently in the works. At Germany's Aero Friedrichshafen show in April 2019, the company exhibited a full-scale mockup of the aircraft but it has yet to publish any clear timeline for the development.

Jetcopter's technology differentiator is the use of two six-feet centrifugal air turbines positioned above the fuselage. These are powered by a hybrid combination of a pair of 500-hp automotive piston engines driving electric motors. These will generate 600 mph of airflow through the ducted fans with carbon fiber turbine blades to provide vertical lift and horizontal propulsion via ducts in the aircraft's short wings. According to company founder Donatas Skulskis, electrical power will not be a viable option for aircraft for at least 10 years because current batteries do not deliver sufficient power density relative to their weight. However, the Jetcopter will feature a small battery with sufficient power for up to 15 minutes during takeoff and this will then be recharged during horizontal flight by the piston engines in much the same way as for hybrid cars.

The company intends to pursue type certification rules under the new Special Condition guidelines published in July by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. In September 2019, it said that it is seeking to raise an initial investment of $6 million to kick-start total development costs that are projected at $60 million.

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

Jetcopter's powerplant proposition is intriguing and appears to be the outcome from some truly innovative thinking. However, as of August 2019, the company did not  have sufficifunding to undertake the extensive development and test program that will be required to prove whether its approach is viable. It remains t0 be seen whether it can reach its initial target of raising launch investment of $6 million.

One of its main engineering challenges before the company can build and fly a full-scale prototype is to specify the carbon fiber to be used for the turbine blades. Aluminum had to be rejected as a material for the blades because in early testing it could not withstand the very high centrifugal forces generated by the powerplant.

Jetcopter also still needs to select and reach agreement with key systems suppliers. It has acknowledged that it will likely depend on a lot of external engineering support during the development phase. Founder Donatas Skulskis has acknowledged that JetCopter itself may end up serving purely as a final assembly facility for the aircraft. 

Jetcopter Models

Jetcopter Specifications

local vtol Lift + Cruise

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    6
  • Range
    620 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    186 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    ducted fan
  • Power Source
    gasoline
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    n/a
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    2,200 lb
  • MGTOW
    4,400 lb
  • Payload Weight
    n/a

Dimensions

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

Jetcopter's developers claim that its centrifugal air turbine technology, combined with automotive engines, will make it far more cost effective and reliable than both electrically-powered aircraft and existing helicopters. It is intended to be certified to be driven on roads.

Powerplant is what sets the Jetcopter apart. It will be powered by a pair of repurposed 665-shp automotive engines that will drive two six-feet diameter encased-rotor air turbines. These will generate vertical lift and also horizontal drive through rear-facing ducts in the wings. Alternative plans call for a possible hybrid electric configuration in which four 

Key Personnel

Donatas Skulskis
Donatas Skulskis

Founder