The AutoFlight Prosperity I, which will not be driven by a robot, but whose creators have extensive experience in the field of aircraft, could be ready to take its first paying passengers as early as 2025.
Tian Yu, founder of AutoFlight, started in the business in 1999 with electric model airplanes. Over the years, he has produced tens of millions of vehicles and has become an expert in electric flight, to the point where he is now a visiting lecturer at Stanford University. Tian has registered more than 300 patents, and has obviously used them in the development of his AutoFlight vertical take-off and landing electric drone.
The company’s global expansion has now reached Europe. It has tapped a former Airbus executive, Mark Robert Henning, with a quarter of a century of professional experience, to head AutoFlight Europe, with responsibility for getting the aircraft ready to fly customers by 2025. The R&D centre in Augsburg, Germany, has the primary task of taking this Prosperity I through the certification process, which starts this year.
The Prosperity I, which is capable of vertical take-off and landing, is the company’s first passenger aircraft model. Previously, autonomous cargo drones have been developed, but the passenger model will be piloted. The model has a range of around 250 kilometres and a maximum cruising speed of 200 km/h. It has a payload capacity of 1.5 tonnes and can carry up to four passengers. AutoFlight’s European expansion will be helped by a $100 million investment in 2021 by a Berlin-based technology company.