Vertaxi, a Shanghai-headquartered advanced air mobility (AAM) pioneer, recently secured 180 million yuan (US$24.75 million) worth of intentional orders placed for its eVTOL products.
At the 2023 Pujiang Innovation Forum, held September 9-12, in Shanghai, Vertaxi showcased the inroads it had made in the eVTOL sector.
During a keynote speech, Xie Ling, founder and CEO of Vertaxi, told the audience that China’s homemade jumbo jet C919 and smaller jet aircraft ARJ 21 have provided the country with a talent pool steeped in aircraft design and experience in landing airworthiness certificates.
The rise of Chinese EV makers also has put indigenously made batteries, electric control and electric motor on par with overseas rivals, laying solid groundwork for the electrification of the aviation segment, Xie noted.
He added this is a rare, “once in a century” opportunity for the nation’s general-purpose aviation industry to overtake foreign opponents and master eVTOL-related core technologies.
“For a new transportation tool, application scenario and technology, we believe independent development of airworthy core eVTOL systems is a ‘difficult but correct’ path,” said Xie, who used to be an engineer with Comac — China’s answer to Boeing and Airbus — for seven years before setting up shop on his own to start Vertaxi.
“For one thing, we have acquired the basic conditions for domestic production of core systems, for another, only through tech self-reliance can we avoid being throttled amid intense global competition,” he explained.
M1, a pioneer in urban mobility services
At the forum he attended, Vertaxi signed an intentional contract with unnamed buyers for its iconic Matrix 1 model, or M1 for short.
The company didn’t reveal how many units of M1 were included in this transaction, which was brokered by government-affiliated technical managers.
M1 is the company’s first 2-ton unmanned aerial vehicle with a 5-seat layout and a load capacity of 500kg.
Featuring a “lift and cruise” structure, it cruises at a maximum 200 kph and has a range of 260km.
This makes the aircraft suited to short-haul urban mobility services, primarily for the transportation of passengers and occasionally cargo.