Australian electric aircraft distributor and support provider FlyOne is partnering with personal eVTOL developer Air to market and maintain its two-seater Air One vehicle. In a March 10 announcement, FlyOne said it has reserved 25 of the aircraft for distribution to end-users from 2025 and it will also provide supporting infrastructure.
According to Israel-based Air, the agreement marks the first step in its plans to establish an international network of brand ambassadors for the eVTOL design it is developing. FlyOne is already a distributor for fixed-wing electric aircraft maker Pipistrel, and also provides training for pilots and maintenance engineers, as well as offering its Lilypad Elevate charging nodes.
Air is focusing entirely on the personal air transportation sector with the all-electric Air One vehicle. The two-seater is expected to provide a range of 110 miles (177 km) on a single charge at speeds up to 155 miles per hour (250 km), and the manufacturer says it will be able to take off from any flat surface.
A photo of the Air One prototype released in March shows a fixed-wing aircraft with eight electric motors, each with a pair of three-bladed rotors, and a boom tail. The front pair of motor/rotor units attach to the lower side of the fuselage, while the rear sets mate with the fuselage at the same point as the tail section.
Since unveiling the Air One in October 2021, the start-up has increased its workforce to 30 and says it is making "steady progress" with the FAA on certification plans. A company spokesperson said it has completed a drop test with the prototype and has finalized the first stages of integrating the power and communications systems.
Over the next few months, Air says it will display the prototype aircraft in both the U.S. and Europe. It is expected to make a first test flight later in 2022.
Weight savings and a low level of design complexity come from a decision to avoid tilting either the rotors or the wing to handle the transition from hover to cruise flight. Instead, the aircraft flies in a similar way to a helicopter, with the pilot raising the nose around 15 degrees for takeoff and then pitch down to transition to cruise flight.
Apart from the rotors, the Air One uses essentially no moving parts and the developer says that the resulting weight savings have delivered more range even without making use of a dual-power system. Once the aircraft lands, the wings will fold in to allow it to park in more confined spaces.
Air is now building the first of several full-scale prototypes and aims to start hover testing one of these without a pilot on board during 2022. The first manned test flight is projected to happen in June next year, with the company already having flown several large-scale models.
“We are thrilled to expand our reach to Australia, a trailblazing market with very high growth potential, with the help of such a forward-thinking partner as FlyOne,” said Rani Plaut, CEO and co-founder of Air. “As we continue to discuss future potential brand ambassadorships around the world, we believe FlyOne’s dedication to electric aviation adoption on all levels will significantly impact public acceptance of personal eVTOLs and help the industry take flight.”
Air says it is partnering with manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and other relevant players in the aerospace and automotive industries.
This story was updated on March 28 to include new information about the first prototype aircraft.