The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Horizon Breaks Free from Astro To Step Up Work on Cavorite eVTOL Aircraft

With a half-scale prototype of its Cavorite X5 eVTOL now built, Horizon Aircraft expects to begin hover flights by the end of August as it works toward type certification and initial deliveries in 2026. At the same time, the Canadian start-up is returning to an independent path, having separated itself through a stock buy-back from Astro Aerospace, the U.S. company that acquired it in June 2021 in an equity-based deal that had been expected to lead to a Nasdaq listing.

According to Horizon CEO Brandon Robinson, the company is now seeking Series A funding round backers. Development work to date has been financed through investments by Astro and a Phase 1 contract from the U.S. Air Force’s Afwerx unit, which is supporting multiple eVTOL aircraft initiatives as part of its effort to explore military applications for these new vehicles.

The half-scale prototype is in an autopilot tuning jig at Lindsay in Ontario where it is being prepared for flight testing. Robinson told FutureFlight that his team will continue the detailed design for the full-scale, five-passenger Cavorite while expanding the flight envelope with the subscale model. The design features 16 ducted fans in the wing and canard, which are covered by the wing surfaces during the cruise phase of flight.

The company is using 3D printing to expedite the prototyping process with support from Toronto’s Fleming College. It also has provisional supplier agreements with several as-yet-undisclosed leading aerospace companies that will provide propulsion systems, avionics, and other equipment.

Robinson explained that the decision for him and his father, with whom he founded Horizon, to buy out most of Astro’s equity in the company came about after it became apparent that Astro was not attracting investors for its wider portfolio, which also includes plans for the smaller Elroy and Alta eVTOL aircraft. The transaction was essentially an employee buyout since Robinson was appointed Astro’s president after the June 2021 acquisition.

“A lot of folks were reticent to approach Astro as a larger company,” he commented. “It came down to what investors were interested in and what they would support.”

According to Robinson, he is already in discussions with prospective Cavorite operators, including a helicopter operator interested in making a switch to an eVTOL fleet. The hybrid-electric aircraft is expected to have a range of just over 500 km (312 miles) and speeds of 450 km/h (281 mph).

“Operators we’ve spoken to like the hybrid-electric setup and the low-drag configuration for en route flight,” said Robinson. “It’s a real-world aircraft that can target early use cases [for eVTOLs] with lower costs for regional flights, such as medical transportation.”