Manta Aircraft is stepping up flight testing with a one-third-scale model of its ANN2 eVTOL aircraft, while also starting assembly of a second example that will incorporate enhanced capabilities. The Italian company says it has frozen the design for the two-seat hybrid-electric vehicle and intends to assemble the first full-scale prototype at the start of 2023.
In 2021, the Manta team relocated to Sesto Calende in Italy’s Lombardy region, close to the headquarters of Leonardo Helicopters, which has a high concentration of engineering skills. The start-up’s board has been bolstered by the appointment of former Leonardo chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi and, this week, by the addition of the helicopter manufacturer's former senior vice president for engineering, safety, and governance, Fabio Nannoni. It is recruiting more engineers and also a strategic finance executive.
Manta co-founder Michael Mesaric told FutureFlight that engineers have gathered large volumes of computational fluid dynamics and aerodynamic data from an intense campaign of wind tunnel tests. Meanwhile, design work is continuing on the four-seat ANN4 model.
Over the last six months, the company has engaged with Italy’s civil aviation authority to conduct preparatory work for type certification under EASA’s Special Conditions eVTOL rules. It expects to start the approval process in 2023, with the aim of being ready to start deliveries in 2025.
The ANN aircraft are intended to operate in either VTOL or STOL mode, potentially offering a range of between 300 and 900 km (186 to 559 miles) and a cruise speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). Plans call for the propulsion system to transition to all-electric or hydrogen power as the technology behind these options advances.
According to Mesaric, Manta intends to further develop a network of partners to support efforts to put in place the myriad services needed to support advanced air mobility operations. Recent additions to this network include infrastructure providers Skygate and Digisky, as well as artificial intelligence specialist Foviatech.