XTI’s in-development TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft is now not expected to enter production until 2027, with the program schedule having slipped by up to three years. The Colorado-based company’s new CEO, Michael Hinderberger, confirmed the delay during an August 3 press conference held by Xeriant Aerospace, with which it still aims to merge on the basis of a joint venture announced back in June 2021.
According to Hinderberger, who recently replaced Robert LaBelle as head of XTI, the company has completed a preliminary design review of the six-passenger TriFan 600. He reported that it now holds “qualified preorders” worth $3 billion, a figure that he said has increased by more than 50 percent over the past 12 months.
However, Xeriant CEO Keith Duffy acknowledged that the Florida-based group is still looking to secure long-term funding as part of a plan to achieve an uplisting to the Nasdaq stock market. He said that, in the meantime, Xeriant has extended the term of an existing senior note until the end of 2022.
In a June 4, 2021, 8K Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Xeriant said it would form a company called Eco-Aero, in which each partner would hold a 50 percent stake. Xeriant committed to investing $10 million in the joint venture over the following 12 months, starting with a $1 million deposit. In November 2021, it announced that it had secured $6 million in financing to support the joint venture.
XTI views the TriFan 600 as an alternative to existing business aircraft and helicopters. The company is also exploring potential military applications, according to Xeriant advisory board member Blaine Holt, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general.
The VTOL vehicle will seat six passengers in standard configuration, rising to nine for “taxi” operations. XTI believes it could prove attractive to airlines looking to establish feeder services into major hub airports from smaller cities.
The TriFan 600 design features three ducted fans, with two on the wing that tilt during the transition between hover and cruise flight, and a third position within the rear fuselage for vertical propulsion. According to XTI, power will be generated by GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine, feeding electric motors and batteries. The company plans to install photovoltaic panels on the top of the fuselage to provide power while the aircraft is on the ground, and it also intends to develop a subsequent hybrid-electric-powered version.
The projected range for the TriFan is 750 miles in VTOL mode, with the figure rising to around 850 miles when it takes off and lands conventionally on runways (representing a reduction from an earlier range estimate of more than 1,300 miles). It will have a cruise speed of around 345 mph and can operate at up to 25,000 feet. The 5,800-pound aircraft will be fitted with a full-airframe parachute, allowing it to land safely in an emergency.
Xeriant is a holding company that says it is “focused on acquiring, developing, and commercializing revolutionary, eco-friendly technologies with applications in aerospace, including innovative aircraft concepts targeting emerging opportunities within the aviation industry.” The company was formed in August 2018 under the name American Aviation Technologies and changed its name when it started trading on the over-the-counter market (under the symbol XERI) following the acquisition of a public company called Banjo & Matilda.
The group’s portfolio includes a small eVTOL aircraft developer called Halo Aircraft, which holds several patents. It has subsidiaries involved in lubricants and fire- and heat-resistant technology and also has disclosed plans to work on a new personal aircraft.