AutoFlight (峰飞航空), an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup, announced on March 2 via a WeChat post that its flagship Prosperity No. 4 aircraft had recently made a 250.3-km flight on a full charge, setting a world record for a 2-ton eVTOL aircraft.
The flight test took place at AutoFlight’s base in Jining, a city in northern China’s Shandong Province, which was documented on video cameras and third-party equipment, the post said.
The test, consisting of procedures such as vertical takeoff, fixed-wing cruise and vertical landing, shattered the record held by Joby Aviation, a US competitor, at 248.8 km, or 154.6 miles.
Prosperity No.4 has a maximum takeoff weight of 2 tons and is powered by a full-electric propulsion system. The five-seater lifts itself using rotary blades and shifts to a cruise mode like a fixed-wing plane, at 200 kph, after it reaches certain height.
Often referred to as air taxi or flying vehicle, eVTOL eliminates the needs for runways and airports, and unlike helicopters, it promises a much quieter and more environmentally friendly trip as it runs on electricity.
The costs of a ride also have come down, making eVTOL a candidate for mass adoption to expand urban air mobility solutions in the future.
According to online information, China has a population of 14 million that chafe at extremely long commutes on a daily basis, meaning they spend over 60 minutes on a single trip.
With the rise of eVTOL comes an emerging solution to ease on-the-ground traffic congestion, effectively cutting several hours of commutes to a mere 15-20 minutes.
AutoFlight has accumulated massive real flight data to assist the iteration and airworthiness certification of its Prosperity model, said Omer Bar-Yohay, global president of AutoFlight.
The recent record-breaking test flight fully and genuinely demonstrated the outstanding performance of AutoFlight’s aircraft, Bar-Yohay noted, adding the company is more than happy to work toward the goal of acquiring an EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) airworthiness certificate in 2025.
Meanwhile, AutoFlight has also completed the certification of its cargo drone V2000CG, which shares a platform with Prosperity, with Civil Aviation Administration of China in early February.
AutoFlight, founded in 2017 in Shanghai, is committed to providing global clients with a safe and reliable air logistics system and UAM solutions. The company has its R&D and airworthiness center in Germany, business and operation center in the US and production facilities in China.
With a strategy starting with transportation of smaller objects, gradually transitioning from freight delivery to crewed flight, AutoFlight’s eVTOL aircraft have undertaken close to 10,000 flights. They have also been applied in scenarios including island logistics, organ transplant, emergency aid transportation and commercial delivery business.