The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Indian Start-up Prepares To Unveil Hybrid-Electric eVTOL Aircraft

Indian start-up Vinata Aeromobility is preparing to unveil a scale model of its hybrid-electric passenger and cargo eVTOL aircraft at the Helitech trade show in London on October 5. The Chennai-based company is fundraising to support efforts to build a full-scale prototype as it aims to bring the aircraft to market by the end of 2023.

The unnamed two-seat vehicle will feature a coaxial quad rotor propulsion system, powered by a turbogenerator and eight electric motors. Vinata has yet to specify the turbogenerator but says that it will run on bio-fuel. With a maximum takeoff weight of 2,970 pounds and a payload of 440 pounds, the vehicle is expected to have a flight-time limit of 60 minutes and a top speed of around 75 mph.

Co-founder and CEO Yogesh Iyer told FutureFlight that the Vinata team has completed initial design work and is starting to build a full-scale prototype that could be displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2022. The company aims to complete type certification with aviation agencies in India, the U.S., and Europe during 2023.

So far, Vinata has received all its seed funding from Indian information technology and real estate entrepreneur Mohan Paroha. The company’s chief technology officer is aeronautical engineer Mohammad Furkan Shoaib, who has experience in developing unmanned air vehicles and is also a qualified drone operator.

Iyer’s background is in product design, development, and manufacturing. Vinata’s advisors including Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, a senior scientist with the Indian Space Research Organization, and retired U.S. Air Force colonel Dawn Zoldi.

Another Chennai-based start-up, called ePlane, is already advancing plans for a two-seat, all-electric eVTOL. This will have the same payload as the Vinata model but is intended for short intra-urban trips of up to around 10 miles.

Disruption from the Covid pandemic has slightly delayed plans to start flight testing a subscale prototype but this is now expected to happen in October. In the meantime, the ePlane team has been focused on resolving certification issues with authorities in India and the U.S.

With the company starting another round of fundraising, it aims to have a full-scale mock-up built within the next few weeks and ready to start flight testing around March 2022. In the meantime, it has also completed a small-scale proof-of-concept design for a hybrid-electric fixed-wing UAV. It intends to be ready to capitalize on anticipated Indian legislation that should make it easy to operate drones for cargo deliveries.