Air has successfully flown the first hover tests of its new personal eVTOL aircraft, Air One, the Israel-based startup announced on July 12.
The full-scale Air One prototype took off above the fields of Megiddo in northern Israel on June 21. It completed several unpiloted hover tests throughout the day and during the following two weeks, in which the aircraft lifted off, hovered, and returned to the ground safely, the company said.
“All of the aircraft’s systems functioned as designed, providing full control and stability,” Air officials wrote in today’s announcement. “Furthermore, Air One’s energy use during flight was exactly as predicted, demonstrating its ability to execute expected performance metrics.”
“It was truly awe-inspiring to watch Air One lift off the ground for the first time. We’ve been on this upward journey for nearly five years and cannot wait for the public to join us on this ride,” said Rani Plaut, CEO and co-founder of Air. “This momentous milestone secures AIR’s spot as a market leader in the personal air mobility space, making the thrill of flight achievable on a daily basis. We look forward to continued growth as we launch into the next phase of development.”
While many eVTOL companies are focused on air taxis for commercial use, the two-seat Air One is designed to function as a personal vehicle. The foldable, fixed-wing aircraft features eight electric motors and is small enough to be stored in most garages and driveways. And owners of the Air One vehicles will not need to have the same type of license as traditional airplane pilots, according to Air.
“The recent change in the FAA’s approach to the emerging eVTOL segment classifies eVTOLs under a new category of powered-lift, rather than roping them into the airplane category. This means that, while previously an eVTOL pilot would require airplane pilot licensing plus additional training, eVTOLs will now have their own, separate and specific training path, which we expect to both shorten and simplify the process,” Plaut told FutureFlight.
Air One will have a range of 110 miles (177 kilometers), a maximum speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) and a cruise speed of 100 mph (161 km/h)—so it can fly for about an hour on a single charge. It can carry payloads up to 440 pounds (200 kilograms), or about two passengers plus luggage; its luggage compartment measures 22 inches (55 centimeters) high, 14 inches (35 cm) wide and 9 inches (22 cm) deep. The aircraft’s batteries take one hour to fully charge, and they can charge from 20 percent to 80 percent in about 30 minutes.
Following the success of these initial hover tests, Air plans to expand to full flight envelope testing this year. The company is working with the FAA to complete the G1 approval stage in its type certification process by the end of next year. First deliveries are expected to begin in 2024.
The company is already taking orders for the Air One, which has a base price of $150,000. “Additional offerings are still in the works, however we envision a range of options including increased range, interior upgrades, and improved customer experience features,” Plaut told FutureFlight. Prospective customers can place orders online for a $1,000 deposit. According to Plaut, Air has already received more than 150 pre-orders from customers mainly in the United States, but also in Europe, Australia and Israel.
Air has partnered with FlyOne in Australia for local service and maintenance, and the company recently announced a partnership with the aircraft retail outlet Aeroauto Aeromall to establish a specialized showroom and dealership in Palm Beach Country, Florida. “We are partnering with additional top tier suppliers as we work to finalize our supply chain en route to full production capacity,” Plaut told FutureFlight.