A number of companies including Airbus, Boeing, Volocopter GmbH, and Joby Aviation have developed prototypes of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles as they compete in the expanding urban air mobility industry. An Israeli start-up is attempting to distinguish itself by creating an eVTOL intended for widespread use, according to Euronews.
“The vast majority of the market is going to the commercial side, e-taxis and buses… AIR is the ‘private car’ of the category based on our technology, bringing the high accessibility of air transport to the majority of people,” said AIR CEO and co-founder Rani Plaut.
He envisages that his company’s vehicle could be used for short commutes or leisure trips high above city traffic, but admits that there are a number of regulatory hurdles to overcome before this can become a reality. Nevertheless, he is confident that the AIR ONE will already comply with most current regulations and will be easy and safe to operate.
“AIR ONE flight training is a very, very short process. We surround the user with a software. This means that the aircraft doesn’t fly itself, but the user controls it by telling it what he wants to do with the stick control. The aircraft translates this into manoeuvres,” says Plaut.
AIR eVTOL is still in the testing phase and has recently reached an important milestone after the aircraft made its first unmanned flight. AIR’s next test flight will have someone on board, Plaut said.
Pending regulatory approval, the company hopes to have its prototype on the market by the end of 2024, at a base price of around €140,000. The average speed will be around 160 km/h at an altitude of 366 metres, Plaut said.