Hyundai’s new Urban Air Mobility Division has recruited highly experienced aerospace engineer Ben Diachun as chief technology officer. Diachun will play a leading role in the South Korean carmaker’s plans to develop a four-seated eVTOL aircraft that it hopes to have ready to enter service in 2028.
Reporting directly to Hyundai Motor Group president Jaiwon Shin, Diachun comes to the group from aviation start-up Opener, where he was president and CEO, leading the company’s BlackFly electric personal air vehicle. Prior to that position, he was aircraft innovator Scaled Composites for many years, working on key programs such as SpaceShipOne. He has a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University and is a board member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
The engineering team that Diachun is now leading is aiming to have a prototype of the all-electric SA-1 eVTOL ready to start flight testing in 2023. It is expected to fly up to around 60 miles at speeds of 180 mph.
Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The company’s strategy calls for the eVTOL aircraft to operate as part of a wider mobility “ecosystem” that would also include the automotive group’s S-Link Purpose Built Vehicles to carry passengers to and from so-called S-Hub and S-Hub Skyport facilities.
Welcoming Diachun’s recruitment, Shin commented: “His track record of ground-breaking aircraft as well as agile, collaborative, and diverse teams is critical to our mission to develop the best and most innovative design for our urban air mobility vehicle.”