Odys Aviation this week reported that it has raised $12.4 million in seed funding to help it bring a nine-passenger hybrid-electric eVTOL aircraft to market in 2026. The California-based start-up, which has raised $13.7 million in total after graduating from the Y Combinator S 21 seed funding program, received support from Giant Ventures, Soma Capital, 11.2 Capital, Countdown Capital, Uber Elevate co-founder Nikhil Goel, and Cruise Automation founder Kyle Vogt.
The Odys engineering team expects to demonstrate a single-seat scaled technology demonstrator of the planned nine-passenger aircraft later this year. The aircraft will use what the company says is patented “flap-based lifting technology” that extends flaps up to an 85-degree angle from the wing to generate vectored thrust from 16 wing-mounted propellers for both vertical and cruise flight. The company says it has trialed this system with a three-foot wing and is building a larger demonstrator unit for the blown-wing concept.
The production aircraft, for which the design is not yet frozen, is expected to have a range of 1,000 miles at speeds of 345 mph and to cruise at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Odys co-founder and CEO James Dorris told FutureFlight that, given the size of the cabin, most flights are likely to be in the range of 100 to 500 miles, for which he said it will have significantly lower operating costs than turboprop business aircraft like the Pilatus PC-12 and Textron’s King Airs. He said the fixed-wing model’s relatively high cruise speed will set it apart from other eVTOL models. The additional range could be useful for possible military applications.
“The flexibility that [hybrid-electric] VTOL aircraft offer in terms of network operation means being able to access remote or unserviced areas, and that is very interesting, especially with longer-range and not having to refuel,” Dorris said. “Sub-regional services like this unlock the ability to reduce operational costs and give people access to far closer to where they are starting and ending their journeys with better door-to-door economics.”
Odys has not disclosed details of its planned powertrain and how the load will be split between a turbine engine and the electric motors. Dorris said this will likely depend on where the aircraft is operating, with the option to take off using battery power where strict noise restrictions need to be met. The company has been in talks with an undisclosed large aircraft engine manufacturer over the gas turbine and indicated that this decision may be announced in 2022. The turbine will be able to run on sustainable aviation fuel.
The company says it has also been talking with multiple Part 135 commercial operators for the past 12 months as it seeks to define performance requirements and specifications. In April 2021, JSX signed a letter of intent covering provisional orders for 200 of the Odys aircraft, plus options for up to 400 more.
Dallas-based public charter provider JSX, which is part of the JetSuite group, operates flights out of private jet terminals using aircraft such as the Embraer 135 and 145 regional airliners. It plans to expand services to the northeastern U.S. with its so-called "hop on" point-to-point flights.
Odys, which was established in 2019 as Craft Aerospace, said the new funding will support plans to expand operations in a new headquarters in Long Beach and also grow its engineering and leadership teams. Co-founder Axel Radermacher is taking on a new role as head of product.
“I’m excited about Odys Aviation because their concept uniquely complements eVTOL [aircraft] by focusing on regional transportation between cities, not just within them,” said Nikhil Goel, who is also on the advisory boards of Archer Aviation and Whisper Aero. He co-founded Uber’s Elevate flight booking platform for eVTOL air taxi services, leaving the company after it was sold to Joby in December 2020.