The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Russia-based Bartini Aero has been slowly working on an eVTOL design that it designates as the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle since 2016. The company is planning to power the aircraft with hydrogen fuel cells. Founder and CEO Ilya Khanykov told FutureFlight that he does not anticipate sufficiently significant progress being achieved with lithium-ion battery technology to ensure the level of performance he feels is necessary to make eVTOL flight viable. That said, he also indicated that the Bartini aircraft can in fact be powered by electric batteries if necessary. Other key elements of the design include a flying wing and variable pitch propellers.

In November 2019, founder and CEO Ilya Khanykov told FutureFlight that it will need new investment of at least $30 million to advance the plans. He said that the company currently has backing from a group of Russian and Swedish investors. 

The next step for the program, funding permitting, is to build a full-scale model that can be used for flight testing. So far it has only built a number of small scale models and has been working on software to support the program. According to Khanykov, Bartini could have a two-seat version of its aircraft ready to enter service within just 18 months of securing the necessary financial support. 

In August 2020, a company called NBD reported that it is working with Bartini Aero to explore the possible use of its nano diamond battery technology to power the planned eVTOL, presumably as an alternative to hydrogen fuel cells. However, it indicated that disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had interrupted progress on this research and development work. 


Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Bartini has yet to provide any timeline for its program and freely admits that it needs at least $30 million to proceed to building a flyable, full-scale prototype. Founder Ilya Khanykov acknowledges he is making a "big bet" that the right hydrogen fuel cell technology can be harnessed for the aircraft. His indication that the company would only need 18 months to get the aircraft to market once funding is in place is hard to believe, given the limited progress that appears to have been made so far.

According to Khanykov, Bartini in November 2019 was "where Lilium was just before receiving investment from Niklas Zennstrom." The Skype co-founder was one of the German companies major backers in September 2017. Since a briefing in November 2019, FutureFlight has had no further update from Bartini as to how fundraising efforts might be progressing. 

The news in August 2020 that it may be considering nano diamond technology as an alternative to hydrogen fuel cells further complicates the outlook for this program.

Bartini Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Models

Bartini Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Specifications

autonomous vtol Lift + Cruise


  • Passenger Capacity
  • Range
    373 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    186 mph
  • Powerplant Type
  • Power Source
  • Endurance
    120 min
  • Max Altitude
    3,281 ft
  • Takeoff Distance
  • Landing Distance
  • Empty Weight
    2,425 lb
  • Payload Weight
    882 lb


  • Length
    17 ft
  • Width
    15 ft
  • Height
    6 ft
  • Wingspan
    15 ft

Bartini currently intends for its AAV to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which promise four times the range of electric motors. The existing lithium-ion batteries have capacity of 20 Wh/kg with 320kW output. The hydrogen fuel cells are expected to deliver up to 700 Wh/kg capacity and 224 kWh output, providing enough power for range of just over 340 miles--more than three times that available from the all-electric powerplant. The aircraft's four ducted fans will be driven by eight 40 kW "thruster" motors.

The airframe design is essentially a flying wing, which the company says will deliver superior aerodynamic performance. The propulsion system uses variable-pitch propellers, which Bartini says will deliver greater stability and more precise flight control.

Key Personnel

Ilya Khanykov

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Founder