The U.S. Air Force has issued military airworthiness approval for Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside eVTOL aircraft. The move clears the way for the company to earn revenues from test flights conducted as part of the Agility Prime research and development program to evaluate and advance possible military applications for new aircraft.
In May, California-based Kitty Hawk conducted some demonstrations for Agility Prime officials using a Heaviside prototype. Agility Prime is run by the Air Force’s Afwerx unit, which is the technology directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
During the initial evaluation of the all-electric aircraft, which features eight tilting propellers mounted on a wing and canard, the Kitty Hawk team and Agility Prime specialists evaluated the Heaviside’s potential for use in missions such as medical evacuation, personnel recovery, and logistics. The trials also involved a demonstration of how the aircraft can be remotely operated from the ground.
According to Kitty Hawk, the Heaviside has a potential range of up to 100 miles on a single electric charge and can fly at up to 180 mph. It is being designed to land and take off from a 30-by-30-foot plot of land, with sound levels of just 38 dBA at 1,000 feet.
Kitty Hawk joins other eVTOL aircraft developers such as Beta Technologies, Joby, and Lift Aircraft in holding military airworthiness approvals for their designs. Multiple other companies engaged in developing electric aircraft and supporting technologies have also received research and development contracts as part of the Agility Prime mission. Agility Prime is supporting collaboration between the U.S. Defense Department and the private sector to advance technology with potential dual civil-military applications.
Kitty Hawk was founded in 2010 by former Google executive Sebastian Thrun with backing from Google co-founder Larry Page. The company also has a 50 percent stake with Boeing in Wisk, which is developing the Cora two-seat autonomous eVTOL aircraft as well as another larger model.