Overair CEO Ben Tigner remained tight-lipped about the company’s plans to bring its Butterfly eVTOL aircraft to market by 2025, during a presentation to this week’s Vertical Flight Society Forum 77 event. It has been just over three years since Uber named what was then Karem Aircraft as one of the partners in its planned Elevate urban air mobility program, but, unlike most of its publicity-hungry rivals, the company steadfastly refuses to offer any meaningful update on its all-electric aircraft.
Asked to provide more details on the Butterfly’s performance, Tigner said it will have a range of “a bit more than 100 miles,” carrying a pilot and four passengers at speeds of around 200 mph. He confirmed that Overair has flown sub-scale demonstrators of the design, which features four sets of tilting propellers. He would not say when a full-scale prototype will begin flight testing.
In July 2020, the company opened a 94,000-square-foot facility in Santa Ana, California. Tigner said that “manufacturing is underway” at the site and that the company has tripled the size of its team, without providing any details.
The expansion has in part been funded by a $25 million investment in Overair by its South Korean partner, Hanwha Systems. Hanwha is working with local partner SK Telcom, Korea Transport Insitute, and Korea Airports Corp. to develop an urban air mobility service in the Asian country and Tigner claimed that the Butterfly is part of this plan.
Asked by FutureFlight whether any prospective operators have shown interest in the Butterfly or whether Overair plans to launch its commercial services itself, Tigner would not elaborate. “We’re in dialogue with some partners who have an interest in doing interesting things [with the aircraft],” he said, in a response that does not seem intended to inspire excitement in prospective new investors.
Overair is a spin-off from Karem Aircraft, which mainly focuses on military aviation projects. It was founded by aerospace pioneer Abe Karem, who initially funded the business with money raised from the sale of an earlier venture to Boeing.