AutoFlight air taxi completes transition test flight

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AutoFlight has today announced the successful completion of the proof-of-concept transition test flight for its Prosperity I air taxi.

A ‘transition’ involves an aircraft moving from a vertical to horizontal motion, one of the most challenging parts of an eVTOL flight. Achieved in January 2022, Prosperity I’s transition saw the aircraft successfully switch from a vertical take-off motion to the more energy-efficient horizontal flight, and back to vertical, before landing.

The unmanned flight took place at AutoFlight’s test area in JiangSu province, China, with CEO Tian Yu, the R&D team and 40 staff present. Prosperity I rose to an altitude of 150m at speeds of up to 123mph.

The air taxi was designed for short transfers between parts of a city, airport commutes, connecting two nearby cities or enabling trips to the countryside whilst avoiding ground traffic. When ready for commercial flight in 2025, Prosperity I is expected to reduce a trip from hours by car to around ten minutes, whilst remaining as safe and inexpensive as a car taxi ride.

Vertical flight for the proof-of-concept for Prosperity I required eight rotors to lift the 3,307lb four-person electric aircraft into the air. Once it reached an altitude of 150m and the airspeed of 100-110mph, the fixed wing part of the eVTOL generated lift.

At this point, Prosperity I entered the transition phase – the rotors on the top stopped spinning and locked in a streamlined position, while the propellers on the rear pushed the aircraft forward like a traditional fixed wing plane.

“Achieving a smooth transition phase in record time, from prototype to flight, underlines the calibre of the engineering team we have at AutoFlight and gives great confidence as we progress into the development phase and layout plans for our first manned aircraft, the Prosperity I,” said Mark Henning, managing director of AutoFlight Europe.

“The simplicity of AutoFlight’s design lies in our patented ‘Lift and Cruise’ configuration, which combines superior range and safety with low technical complexity, making it affordable to manufacture, maintain and operate as an air taxi.”

The milestone is the latest of significant recent developments for AutoFlight including establishment of a European base in Augsburg, Germany and the appointment of Henning (formerly Airbus) as European managing director, as well as $100m investment from Team Global.