The electric vehicle, which can take off from the ground, will be developed by Orca and the maintenance processes will be improved in cooperation with AerinX. The Hungarian startup Orca, which has come closer to realising its machine, which only exists on the drawing board so far, by signing a cooperation agreement with AerinX, another Hungarian company focusing on the technological renewal of the aviation industry’s operation and maintenance processes, would revolutionise air rescue. Under this agreement, the two companies plan to jointly investigate and develop high-tech maintenance processes for air taxis.
Orca’s aircraft is set to join the field of so-called eVTOL vehicles, which are gaining ground around the world. It is envisaged that the electric, local take-off aircraft would support air rescue organisations with a cost-effective and green solution that is cheaper, faster and safer than helicopters.
The press release issued on the collaboration highlights the opportunities that already exist in the young sector and the even greater potential that will emerge in the future. The industry is estimated to be worth $45 billion in 2020, while experts predict that the global market size could exceed $97 billion by 2027. From the end of the decade onwards, even more significant growth is predicted.
In addition to the pilot, the Pécs team has designed a cabin that can accommodate two doctors and an in-patient, and seven electric rotors, the first two of which are rotatable, to help lift and propel the aircraft. The two-tonne aircraft would be capable of carrying a total payload of more than 600 kilograms and, according to simulations so far, can travel nearly 100 kilometres on battery charge.
Thanks to its lightweight design and electric propulsion, the developers expect it to be much cheaper to buy and maintain than the gas turbine helicopters currently used in air rescue. Orca’s founders told Forbes this summer that they expect their basic model to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, compared to the $4 million for a Eurocopter.
The team is aiming to have a working prototype in a few years’ time, starting with a 1:5 scale version and testing it soon to test the controls, the interaction of the surfaces and test flights. The plan is to complete test flights on the first Orcas within five years, and if all goes well, to start mass production in 2027.
Orca’s basic strategy is to develop the aircraft in Hungary and bring the project to the international market as a Hungarian invention and product. The company aims to strengthen the growing Hungarian aerospace industry and economy while creating attractive jobs in the international market. For this reason, the partners for the development of the company have been designed from the outset to ensure that all the skills needed for this remain within the country’s borders.
It is in this spirit that Orca and AerinX have now signed a cooperation agreement, under which the two companies plan to jointly study and develop hi-tech maintenance processes for VTOL aircraft.