A kit-build helicopter manufacturer is entering the eVTOL market. Rotor X (RX) is partnering on the development of civilian and military multicopter aircraft that can be powered by either conventional piston or all-electric engines. In January, Rotor X acquired the assets of Chandler, Arizona-based Rotorway International, the long-time manufacturer of two-seat kit helicopters, including the A600 Talon Turbo. Kit-built aircraft are assembled by amateur customers using kits of parts supplied by the manufacturer.
In partnership with Advanced Tactics (AT) of Torrance, California, RX is now developing the quadrotor, six-seat RX eTransporter for passenger, emergency medical, search and rescue, and cargo operations. The eTransporter uses a small wing to enhance lift, can fly more than 1.5 hours or hover for up to 45 minutes on a single charge, and can safely fly with one engine out.
RX is targeting this fall to begin flight testing and 2022 for FAA certification for a cargo variant, with the passenger version to be approved by 2024. The company said the aircraft’s technology has been in development for “over a decade” and builds on AT’s eight-engine air-land vehicle, the “Black Knight Transformer” that first flew in 2014 and could be driven on the ground. AT is working with the USAF on two contracts related to the eTransporter. RX would build a civilian version of that aircraft.
The aircraft will be offered with a choice of a piston engine or all-electric power. Both aircraft have a maximum speed of 139 knots, a service ceiling of 20,000 feet, an 8,000-pound maximum takeoff weight. The piston-powered RX Transporter has more endurance and a longer range of 300 nm and a useful load of 4,000 pounds, compared with 200 nm and 1,600 pounds, respectively, on the eTransporter. RX expects the certified piston-powered version will be able to carry one or two crew and up to 10 passengers while the all-electric version would be cleared to carry one or two crew and up to seven passengers.