Japanese electric aircraft developer SkyDrive plans to manufacture its eVTOL air taxi in a factory owned by car maker Suzuki Motor Corporation, the company said this week during the Paris Air Show. It also announced that avionics specialist Thales will provide the aircraft's flight controls.
SkyDrive has also updated the design of its eVTOL aircraft to include an additional seat. Now with three seats, the fully electric aircraft will carry up to two passengers plus one pilot on short flights of up to 15 kilometers (9 miles), according to SkyDrive.
While to date the company has called its two-seat model the SD-05, it will name the production series aircraft simply “SkyDrive.” The company aims to gain airworthiness certification for the three-seat SkyDrive model in time to fly it at the Osaka World Expo in 2025. It expects to achieve type certification and enter service in 2026.
Suzuki and SkyDrive will begin building the eVTOL aircraft in 2024 at a Suzuki production facility located in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture. SkyDrive says it is establishing a wholly-owned manufacturing subsidiary to oversee the vehicle’s production in tandem with Suzuki, which has served as a partner company since 2022. The as-yet-unnamed manufacturing subsidiary will work together with Suzuki to secure human resources and make other preparations to establish the new eVTOL production line at the carmaking plant.
“At Suzuki, all manufacturing activities are based on a concept: smaller, fewer, lighter, shorter, and neater,” said SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa. “In our pursuit to consistently manufacture safe and high-quality aircraft for the world, we are grateful for the valuable know-how we will learn from Suzuki, a global leader in automobile mass production.