The Israeli startup that has developed an electric flying vehicle for private customers says the prototype has successfully completed its first unmanned cruise flight, which the company says puts it on the path to deploying piloted aircraft within the next two years.
Pardes Hanna-based start-up AIR said it is on track to deliver the first examples of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft by the end of 2024, following hover test flights and flight tests. horizontal, carried out near Beer Sheva, under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.
The AIR ONE model is an all-electric two-seater eVTOL with a range of 177 km on one charge, a top speed of 250 km/h, an altitude of 1,200 feet and a flight time of one hour.
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The aircraft, which already has a certificate of airworthiness, has folding wings for easy parking and can take off or land on any flat surface. It is designed for personal use and provides an everyday alternative for short-haul trips in the sky.
“We are delighted to have reached this stage of our development. What we want is to make personal air mobility a reality,” said Rani Plaut, CEO and co-founder of AIR.
Plaut said to Israeli times that the startup had already received 273 pre-orders for its AIR ONE, 240 of which came from customers in the United States. The unit price is $150,000, substantially close to that of a luxury car.
Plaut plans to sell a first batch of 150 to 200 vehicles when they hit the market in 2024.
The goal is to sell more than 1,000 planes in two years, and then reach 5,000 units or more per year, adds Plaut.
“We have to prove the perfect safety of this means of transport before putting it in the hands of our customers”, specifies Plaut.
“We estimate that the manned prototype, in its final version, will start flying in early 2024 and will be fully certified, ready for delivery, by the end of 2024.”
For the cruise flight test carried out on December 18, the AIR ONE prototype was loaded to its full capacity (1.1 tons), that is, the 945 kilograms of the aircraft and a payload of 150 kilograms simulating the weight of passengers.
“The final product will have the same total weight, but the plane will be a little lighter, being able to transport 250 kilos, between people and luggage”, says Plaut.
The start-up explained that the cruise flight test started the thousands of flight hours required for the AIR ONE G1 certification, under the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the United States. This G1 certification demonstrates compliance with basic safety and environmental standards for civil commercial operations.
“At this point, we’re only flying up to 300 feet and no more than 15 minutes,” adds Plaut.
“During the next flight campaign, we hope to reach maximum performance, that is, one hour of cruising flight time. 🇧🇷
Plaut says AIR customers are aged between 35 and 75, and 40% of them have a pilot’s license.
“Some people need our product for professional reasons: this is the case of doctors, for example, who need to go to the bedside of patients on islands”, explains Plaut.
“We have customers in Florida who currently commute to work by helicopter and would like to switch to a more sustainable mode of transportation. We also have customers in Texas who would like to enjoy our product on their ranch. 🇧🇷
AIR (also known by its former name, Porality Mobility) was founded in 2017 by aviation expert Chen Rosen, joined by successful entrepreneurs Plaut and Netanel Goldberg.
Since its inception, the startup has raised just under $20 million. It is currently in the process of raising $15 million through Round A funding, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023.