The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Merlin Pilot Notches Regulatory Milestone in New Zealand

Autonomous flight pioneer Merlin says it has reached a milestone in its certification efforts with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA). According to the company, the CAA has concluded its review of the first stage of the process and approved Merlin's plan for software aspects of its Merlin Pilot system.

Merlin is a Boston-based company developing a “drop-in” autonomy kit for fixed-wing aircraft, including the Cessna Grand Caravan and DHC-6 Twin Otter, under supplemental type certificates. It is seeking to certify its Merlin Pilot concurrently with the CAA and FAA. 

“We have been working hand-in-hand with the CAA and achieving the SOI 1 regulatory milestone allows us to rapidly, safely, and effectively integrate the Merlin Pilot into our skies, transforming the way goods and people move around the world. SOI 1 is the critical step of this process and we’re proud to be the first to accomplish this stage of certification progress,” said Merlin co-founder and CEO Matthew George. 

Eve’s eVTOL Aircraft Completes Wind Tunnel Testing

Eve Air Mobility says its eVTOL aircraft prototype has completed a wind tunnel testing campaign at a facility near Lucerne, Switzerland. The company brought a scale model of its planned four-seat, all-electric air taxi to the wind tunnel to validate the design and performance of its main components, including the fuselage, rotors, wing, and tail.

Eve has tested its eVTOL design in a wind tunnel.
Eve has tested its eVTOL design in a wind tunnel. (Image: Eve Air Mobility)

“The completion of wind tunnel testing is an important engineering milestone as we continue the development of our eVTOL,” said Eve’s chief technology officer, Luiz Valentini. “The information we obtained during this phase of development has helped us further refine the technical solutions of our eVTOL before committing to production tooling and conforming prototypes. Our goal is to design, produce, and certify an aerodynamic and efficient eVTOL that will be used for a variety of urban air mobility missions.”

SkyDrive SD-05 eVTOL Vehicle Wins Design Award

International Forum (IF) Design Award judges have recognized SkyDrive’s two-seat SD-05 eVTOL aircraft in the competition's professional concept category. The Japanese company said its all-electric vehicle, which is intended for short flights around urban areas, was selected out of almost 11,000 entries from 56 countries in this year’s awards.

The IF Design Award judging panel described the SD-05 as “the most accessible flying car.” Supernal also won an award for the cabin concept of its four-passenger SA-1 eVTOL aircraft.

SkyDrive's SD-05 eVTOL aircraft.
SkyDrive's SD-05 eVTOL aircraft won a design award. (Image: SkyDrive)

The SD-05 is expected to enter service in 2025 in applications including passenger transportation and emergency medical support. SkyDrive is also working on a cargo drone called SkyLift, which won a design award in 2021.

ParaZone To Provide Recovery Safety System for Jetson Personal eVTOL Vehicle

ParaZone is developing a whole-aircraft recovery system for the Jetson One single-seat eVTOL vehicle. The aircraft will be flown under FAA Part 103 rules that do not require operators to have a pilot’s license. 

The European company says the recovery system will be able to deploy at altitudes as low as just 50 meters (150 feet). The same system is being used for the U.S. Lift Hexa personal eVTOL aircraft.

Jetson One personal eVTOL vehicle.
The Jetson One personal eVTOL vehicle will feature a whole-aircraft safety parachute system. (Image: Jetson)

The Jetson One has a maximum flight duration of up to 20 minutes and a top speed of 63 mph. Its cockpit has a flight computer and fly-by-wire controls. The operator has to deal only with a pair of joysticks: a three-axis unit to control the direction of flight with the right hand and a throttle to control the power from the vehicle's electric motors with the left hand. If the operator disregards the low-battery light, the aircraft will start an automatic landing process.

Jetson says it expects to complete the Part 103 validation process this summer and have the vehicles in production at its facility in Italy by the end of the first quarter of 2024. CEO Stéphan D’haene told FutureFlight it has built 10 examples of the Jetson One so far and has another 10 in production. The vehicle is priced at $98,000 and the company says it now holds 272 orders backed by down payments.

VoltAero Launches Construction of Cassio Production Facility

VoltAero is pressing ahead with plans to build a manufacturing facility for its Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft in western France. The French start-up says it is seeking bids for the €4.4 million ($4.8 million) construction project, and it aims to open the facility in June 2024. 

Located at Rochefort Charente-Maritime Airport in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, the facility will have three assembly lines dedicated to the manufacturing of three different aircraft configurations in VoltAero’s hybrid-electric Cassio family of aircraft. These will include the five-seat Cassio 330 model with a combined hybrid-electric power rating of 330 kilowatts, the six-seat Cassio 480 (480 kilowatts), and the 10-seat Cassio 600 (600 kilowatts).

VoltAero will build its Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft in a purpose-built factory in France.
VoltAero will manufacture its Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft in a purpose-built factory in France. (Image: VoltAero)

VoltAero’s facility will cover about 7,400 sq m (80,000 sq ft), and there’s room to expand beyond that size in the future. When it opens in 2024, the facility will initially have just 2,412 sq m (25,960 sq ft) of floor space. Construction will be led by the regional association of airports, called the Syndicat Mixte des Aéroports de La Rochelle, and the prime contractor role has been assigned to the Rochefort-based SDArchitectes agency.

Doroni Seeks Additional Investments To Fund ‘Flying Car’ Development

Doroni Aerospace has launched a new funding round to help pay for the development of its two-seat H1 eVTOL aircraft, which the company refers to as a “flying car.” The Series A Reg D offering, announced on May 15, is open only to accredited investors.

Over the last six months, the Florida-based start-up has raised more than $3.6 million through equity crowdfunding from more than 1,900 investors. It has also begun flight testing with a technology demonstrator that has so far conducted at least 53 successful flights. Doroni says it plans to start delivering the $250,000 aircraft to its customers in the second half of 2025, with FAA type certification expected to be achieved before the end of 2024. 

Doroni is developing a two-seat personal eVTOL vehicle.
Doroni is seeking further funding to develop its planned two-seat eVTOL vehicle. (Image: Doroni Aerospace)