AutoFlight (峰飞航空), one of the pioneers in the domestic eVTOL sector, revealed yesterday that three of its full-size Prosperity I aircraft prototypes completed a formation flight on July 17.
According to the Shanghai-based advanced air mobility (AAM) startup, this is the world’s first synchronized flight by multiple eVTOLs with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) of more than 1 ton. Thus, it represents yet another milestone in the global eVTOL race.
Exactly why the company decided to release the news more than a week later remains unknown, though.
Prosperity I is AutoFlight’s passenger-carrying eVTOL model, which is fully electric and has a MTOM of 2 tons. With a five-seat design, it has a cruising speed of 200 kph and lasts 250 km in a single journey.
The model adopts a composite “lift and cruise” architecture, meaning that it can switch between two modes of locomotion.
The eVTOL’s rotary blades provide the power for the aircraft to take off and land, while in mid-air, they tilt horizontally to become the propellers needed for the cruising mode.
This process is known as the full transition flight.
AutoFlight said that worldwide, companies with full-size eVTOLs that feature a MTOM of over 1 ton and have actually taken to the air are “few and far between.”
“An even smaller number of them” were able to conduct a full transition flight successfully, said the startup.
On July 17, the three AutoFlight eVTOL aerial vehicles, belonging to three generations, flew along pre-set paths and performed full transition flight in the same airspace.
This not just demonstrated the firm’s vertical integration and efficient R&D capacity, but also achieved a breakthrough in the simultaneous flight of multiple aircraft, said AutoFlight.
What’s more, the company revealed that it has deployed its eVTOLs to various real-life scenarios, including cross-strait logistics, delivery of human organs for transplant, emergency material transportation and commercial courier services.
Over the past few years, AutoFlight’s flying cars have undergone close to 10,000 transition flights, with a focus shifting from delivery of smaller items to bigger goods and from lifeless cargo to passengers.
Apart from Prosperity I, which is a model meant for crewed flight, AutoFlight also has rolled out a cargo-carrying version called Carryall. This is designed to transport goods of up to 500 kg, according to the company’s website.
As AutoFlight keeps working on its products and optimizing the technologies, it plans to put a fleet of Carryall eVTOLs in place for commercial operation in the Asia-Pacific region in 2024.
The airworthiness and commercialization of Carryall will aid the quest of its cousin, Prosperity I, to meet the highest aviation safety standards, on par with those governing civil aviation aircraft, AutoFlight said in a press release.