The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

The government-backed Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) launched its "futuristic" Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle in April 2019. The agency is aiming to achieve a first flight with a technology demonstrator around the middle of 2022 and intends to seek certification from the Korea Office of Civil Aviation. It confirmed to FutureFlight that an undisclosed South Korean company is involved in building the aircraft.

Not much information has been released about the eVTOL design, which appears to be an all-electric tiltrotor. KARI has previously been involved in developing the TR-60 unmanned tiltorotor, apparently with military applications in mind. The Institute has not provided any further public update on the program.

Timeline

A key objective of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute is that South Korea should be in the top five for global unmanned aircraft industries by the end of 2023. The government-backed agency wants the country to be in the top three by the end of 2027.

Projected

test flight

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute aims to fly the technology demonstrator for its Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle by mid-2022.

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

Although KARI appears to have made a somewhat late start in its plans to develop an eVTOL aircraft, the government-backed agency appears to be playing a long-game in its efforts to boost South Korea's standing in the unmanned aircraft industry. Long-term funding for the program appears to be assured and the agency has said that it has the support of an undisclosed private company. 

It is hard to say how much progress has been made in advancing the key engineering timeline points leading up to the planned first flight around mid-2022. No firm date has been established for certifying the aircraft or how it will be brought to market. 

KARI Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle Models

Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle Specifications

Optionally-piloted vtol Tiltrotor

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    1
  • Range
    31 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    120 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    multi rotor
  • Power Source
    electric
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    6,500 ft
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    1,400 lb
  • MGTOW
    1,433 lb
  • Payload Weight
    220 lb

Dimensions

  • Length
    20 ft
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    9 ft
  • Wingspan
    23 ft

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is developing the Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle (OPPAV) as an all-electric tiltrotor. The design appears to build on existing work to develop the TR-60 unmanned military tiltorotor. The aircraft is expected to make a first flight by mid-2022.

Key Personnel

Chang-Jeon Hwang

Program Director