Vietnamese renewable-energy company Pacific Group has preordered 10 SD-05 eVTOL aircraft from Japan’s SkyDrive, the companies announced on Monday. Under a newly signed memorandum of understanding, Pacific Group conditionally agreed to purchase the aircraft, with an option to order up to 90 more.
SkyDrive, which is based in Japan, has been developing personal eVTOL aircraft, or “flying cars,” and cargo drones since 2018. The SD-05, which SkyDrive revealed in September, is a fully electric, two-seat eVTOL aircraft designed to make flights of up to 10 kilometers (six miles), traveling at a maximum altitude of 500 meters (1,600 feet) and a cruise speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).
The SD-05 will be SkyDrive’s first eVTOL vehicle to be evaluated for type certification, but it won’t be the company’s production model. SkyDrive has said its production aircraft will be the as-yet-unnamed SD-XX, which will be similar to the SD-05. The company’s earlier prototype, a single-seat eVTOL aircraft called the SD-03, made its first test flight in August 2020, and SkyDrive plans to begin flight testing with the SD-05 in 2024. SkyDrive plans to have the new aircraft ready to start air taxi services during the World Expo 2025, which the Japanese city of Osaka will host.
Pacific Group has also agreed to collaborate with SkyDrive in researching sustainable and accessible mobility solutions for the Vietnamese market. In addition to exploring use cases for the SD-05, the companies will evaluate other aspects of Vietnam's urban air mobility ecosystem, such as vertiports and other infrastructure requirements.
“The urban streets in Vietnam, crowded with motorcycles and [automobiles], are vibrant and exciting. However, considering the current social problem of traffic safety and greenhouse gas emissions, I think this is one of the most important social issues that need to be addressed,” said SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa.
“The number of motorcycles and [automobiles] is only increasing, and it takes time to develop roads and parking lots,” Fukuzawa added. “We would be happy to contribute to solving Vietnam’s social issues by providing eVTOLs, a means of transportation using the sky, as one of the country’s new transportation infrastructures.”
Introducing eVTOL aircraft in Vietnam could help the country reach its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, said Le Ngoc Anh Minh, the executive president and founder of Pacific Group. He added that 2023 will mark the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan, “and we really hope to create several activities with SkyDrive to promote this eVTOL not only for our business but also for contributing to the two nations’ scientific and friendship collaboration.”