China’s eVTOL startup Vertaxi (御风未来) announced recently that it its aircraft Matrix 1 has completed various ground tests, ready for its maiden flight in the near future.
A specific date has yet to be set for the flight, though.
In recent years, R&D work in the eVTOL realm has made significant headway. Powered by electricity, eVTOL aircraft do not require runway for take-off, and can achieve autonomous operation independent of a pilot, according to a statement from the Shanghai-based company.
Matrix 1, or M1 for short, is a 5-seater aerial vehicle with a “lift and cruise” architecture. With a range of 260 km, it cruises at a maximum 200 kph.
The “flying car” has a load capacity of 500kg and will be used primarily for providing short-haul intercity or intracity mobility services, according to its producer.
Vertaxi said that eVTOL aircraft like its M1 possess advantages like low carbon emissions, environment-friendliness, low noise and high levels of safety.
They are widely believed to be the best form of transportation to complement the current range of urban air mobility (UAM) service providers.
“This year and the next are seen as pivotal for the eVTOL industry, with an inflection point expected,” said Vertaxi. “Many firms at home and abroad have been undergoing tests at an accelerated pace to push for a maiden flight of their prototypes. Vertaxi hopes to secure the certificates from regulatory authorities and formally become a commercial operator of the eVTOL air taxi service.”
Photo courtesy of Vertaxi
Amid a policy push, China’s general-purpose aviation sector will enjoy an opportunity to beat overseas competitors at their own game, said Xie Ling, founder and CEO of Vertaxi, was quoted as saying in Chinese media reports.
The success of China’s homegrown C919 jumbo jet, a large number of domestic aircraft designers familiar with airworthiness application and safety standards, and a track record built by civil aviation authorities for certifying airworthiness, combine to provide fertile ground for China’s eVTOL segment to take off, Xie added.
The world’s best new energy supply chain
In his view, the most important factor in China’s favor is the country’s new energy supply chain, comprising battery, electric motor and electric control at its core and considered as the world’s best.
According to Vertaxi, the three key aspects of M1, ranging from electric locomotion and flight control to the compound materials used to build the aircraft, are all manufactured at home or sourced from homegrown suppliers.
“These three factors represent the new opportunity for China’s general aviation players to surpass overseas rivals in a shift toward electrification,” said Xie, who was with COMAC (中国商飞), the company behind C919.
After its maiden flight, M1 is poised to do down in history as China’s first indigenously developed and manufactured 2-ton aerial vehicle.
This will make it a milestone for the nation’s nascent eVTOL industry in the global arena.