The Skai eVTOL aircraft will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Its developer Alaka'i Technologies unveiled the design on May 29, 2019 and claims that its key flight control systems (including fly-by-light technology) have all been approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Board member Dr Bruce Holmes indicated to FutureFlight that FAA is supporting an "accelerated" certification program and, on this basis, the company claims it will be ready for series production and first deliveries during the first quarter of 2021.
The design philosophy for the program is to have as few moving parts as possible. Alaka'i Technology's belief is that this will result in type certification process under the FAA's FAR 21.17 rules for very light aircraft. The company claims that the simplicity of the Skai design should also improve reliability and reduce the aircraft's maintenance requirements. For instance, the anticipated time-between-overhaul for hydrogen fuel cells is around 20,000 flight hours, which is significantly longer than that of conventionally powered piston and turbine engines.
Alaka'i Technologies has not published a detailed timeline for the program, but has indicated that it hopes to start the production phase by the first quarter of 2021. The company believes that early customers for Skai will likely include operators serving regional and more rural markets than the urban environments being targeted by most eVTOL aircraft developers. It believes that, prior to full type certification, it may be able to support some trial operations with public service applications, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard.
On November 16, 2020, the company was added to NASA's Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign. Alaka'i, along with 18 other UAM companies, will prepare for the first phase of NASA's program dubbed the "Grand Challenge" trials in 2022, which aim to assess operational safety scenarios (primarily collision avoidance and flight path management) of future air mobility services. This comes after a several months without update from the company whom, in a brief December 9, 2020 announcement, assures it has been conducting many tests on its vehicle, and promises more updates in the future.