V-Star Powered Lift Aviation announced this week that it intends to begin flying vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft in southern Australia as early as 2023. It said that as part of plans to expand advanced air mobility services in the country, it is preparing to add next-generation aircraft to its fleet for missions including emergency services, regional travel, and commercial transportation.
The Adelaide-based company said its mixed fleet will include at least three types of VTOL aircraft, the first of which will be the twin-engine AW609 tiltrotor aircraft from Leonardo Helicopters. According to its Italian manufacturer, the six- to nine-seat AW609 is expected to be the world’s first commercially certified powered lift aircraft, combining the operational flexibility of a helicopter with the range and speed of a fixed-wing type.
V-Star said the tiltrotor is well suited for search-and-rescue missions and emergency response operations. The AW609 can travel at speeds up to 316 mph (509 km/h), has a range of 863 miles (1,389 km), and can land on most hospital and offshore helipads.
In the July 12 announcement, the Australian company said it is also partnering with Dufour Aerospace in Switzerland, which will provide the company with early access to its new Aero 3 hybrid-electric, tilt-wing eVTOL. Designed for search-and-rescue operations in the harsh alpine environments in Switzerland, the Aero 3 is ideal for emergency services and transportation operations, Dufour says. It has a range of more than 500 miles (800 km) and is capable of traveling at up to 220 mph (350 km/h).
The third aircraft V-Star is eyeing for its fleet is Denver-based XTI Aircraft’s TriFan 600, which is being developed as an alternative to light business jets and features three ducted tilt fans and a high-swept wing design. The in-development TriFan 600 is expected to travel farther and faster than conventional helicopters, with a projected range of around 750 miles (1,200 km) at a maximum speed of 390 mph (630 km/h). XTI says that, compared with similar existing aircraft, the hybrid-electric model will have 60 percent lower operating costs and 75 percent lower CO2 emissions.
“These new aircraft designs will change the way we approach regional travel and transport in Australia. Anywhere we need to get people and equipment quickly and cheaply is where these airplanes come in,” said V-Star co-founder and CEO Tony Laws. “South Australia’s climate, geography, and infrastructure make it an ideal location for testing and potential manufacturing,” Laws added.
Laws said that V-Star’s headquarters in Adelaide will provide aircraft sales and leasing services, operational and maintenance support, and a world-class training center for its customers.