Autoflight, a Chinese start-up developing autonomous and electric aircraft for passengers and cargo, has secured a major order from Singapore-based fleet-management and air-transport company EvFly for 205 Prosperity I and Prosperity Cargo electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the company announced Thursday.
Expected to be delivered in 2025, the first 10 Prosperity aircraft will operate in Middle Eastern markets such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. EvFly—which plans to eventually deploy additional units in Asia and Africa—aims to operate both eVTOL aircraft and electric airplanes (also known as conventional-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, or eCTOLs) on those continents as well as in the Middle East. Last year, the company signed a letter of intent with French eVTOL developer Ascendance Flight Technologies for up to 65 of its four-passenger Atea aircraft.
“This is a fantastic deal and illustrates just a few of the many geographies that will benefit from eVTOLs in both cargo and personal mobility,” AutoFlight president Omer Bar-Yohay said of the EvFly order. “The team at EvFly has a proven track record in successfully managing freight and cargo businesses, and we’re delighted to be partnering with them in what could be one of the first commercial eVTOL operations in the world.”
The news comes on the heels of AutoFlight’s recent announcement claiming that the company set a new record for the world’s longest flight by an eVTOL aircraft on a single charge. According to AutoFlight, its remotely piloted, fourth-generation Prosperity I eVTOL prototype flew 250.3 kilometers (156.4 miles) from its research and development site in southern Germany. The company has also conducted extensive flight testing with earlier prototypes in China, including hundreds of full transitions from vertical lift to cruise flight—something not many eVTOL developers have been able to achieve.
“AutoFlight has a proven aircraft, as demonstrated by their world-record flight and thousands of additional flight test miles,” said EvFly founder and CEO Yannick Erbs. “They are a natural choice for EvFly, as both parties will bring expertise to the nascent eVTOL cargo and passenger markets.”
AutoFlight’s Prosperity vehicles can be configured to carry either three passengers and one pilot, or about 900 pounds (400 kilograms) of cargo in an unpiloted, autonomous version. Eventually, the company hopes to offer fully autonomous passenger flights, too, but it will begin passenger operations with a safety pilot on board to oversee the highly automated operation of the aircraft.