Opener Aims To Begin Taking Orders for the BlackFly Personal eVTOL This Year
Opener, the Canadian start-up behind the BlackFly personal eVTOL aircraft, says it is on track to begin collecting orders from customers this year.
According to Opener, the BlackFly prototype has flown more than 23,000 miles and more than 2,300 flights with a full payload since first flight in August 2014. The full-length propulsion system has completed 40,000 flight cycles.
The company says that in the U.S., the single-seat "personal aerial vehicle" is categorized as an ultralight, for which no pilot license is required. Transport Canada has designated the aircraft as a basic ultralight, for which an ultralight pilot license is required. With a maximum gross takeoff weight of 313 pounds, BlackFly exceeds the weight limit for an ultralight in the U.S. Opener says that it has been categorized as an "amphibious ultralight" for which the weight limit is higher.
Opener says it will be ready to take orders for the BlackFly during 2019, but, as of July 2019, no further details had been provided.
In March 2020, while few details have been released since 2019, the company stated in a Twitter post that it has been busy refining manufacturing processes and vehicle design to be more robust and efficient for future demand. No timeline has been released, and as of early 2021, no new details have surfaced.
On July 20, Opener broke its wall of silence to announce its intention to give the BlackFly prototype a public debut at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 27. Following a successful flight demonstration at the airshow, the company said it plans to begin selling its BlackFly single-seat eVTOL this fall. The all-electric aircraft will initially be offered under FAA's Part 103 rules for ultralight aircraft, with no pilot’s license required, only operating when visual flight rule (VFR) conditions prevail. Pilots can weigh no more than 200 pounds, being no taller than 6'6" in order to fit inside the cockpit.
According to Opener, the BlackFly will have a range of 30 miles on a full charge, as well as a service ceiling of 1,200 feet, and a top speed of 62 mph. Using a 240-volt quick charger, the aircraft can be recharged in 20 to 30 minutes. With a 120-volt connection, a charge would take considerably longer.
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Opener appears to have made good progress in the development of the BlackFly since 2014 and claims to be on the cusp of taking what it categorizes as a "personal aerial vehicle" to market. However, the company has still not been entirely clear how an aircraft that appears to be mainly for land use can be categorized as an "amphibious ultralight." Nor, has the company fully explained what level of training will be required of owners. Opener needs to be more transparent on these points to make a more compelling case for the design's prospects for commercial success.
It is hoped that plans to demonstrate the BlackFly at the July 2021 EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin will mark a turning point that will see Overair engage more fully with interested stakeholders. Arguably, industry observers have been expected to give Overair the benefit of the doubt for too long and it remains a long way behind rival eVTOL aircraft developers in terms of credibility.
Opener has categorized BlackFly as an ultralight and said it can be flown by people who do not hold a pilot's license (under U.S. ultralight rulesl.. The company will require owners to take some basic training with the aircraft, and it will provide this training.
Founder Marcus Leng achieved first flight with a prototype eVTOL aircraft in October 2011 at his then-headquarters in Warkworth, Canada. In September 2014, the company was restructured as Opener and relocated most of its operations to Palo Alto, California. The company said the aircraft would be available for purchase in 2019, but that had yet to happen as of early 2020.