TCab Tech this week announced its intention to power its planned E20 eVTOL aircraft with six of Safran’s EngineUs electric motors. The Chinese start-up says it expects to complete type certification for the five-seat model with the Civil Aviation Administration of China in 2025.
The E20 designs released as part of the joint announcement with the French aerospace group on May 31 show two pairs of tilting rotors fitted to the ends of a main wing and a T-shaped tail section. The aircraft also has two fixed lift rotors on a beam extending forward from the wing, and these are intended to be stowed away during cruise flight.
Each of these rotors will have its own 100 kW EngineUs 100 motor, for which Safran aims to complete type certification in 2023. The aircraft engine maker will also provide an air-cooled thermal management system.
Safran is developing its EngineUs family of electric motors to offer power outputs ranging from single digits up to 500 kW. It is already a partnered in several electric fixed-wing aircraft programs, including those being advanced by Aura Aero Bye Aerospace and VoltAero, but TCab Tech is its first declared eVTOL partner.
According to TCab Tech, the piloted E20 aircraft is intended for aerial ridesharing services, and for carrying up to four passengers. It is expected to have a range of 200 km (125 miles) and a cruising speed of 260 km/h (162 mph). The company says TCab stands for “Time Taxi” and it appears to be mainly focused on the Chinese urban air mobility market.
Safran has extensive experience working with Chinese aerospace companies. In addition to aircraft engines, it provides flight controls, landing and braking systems, nacelles, wiring, seats, and cabin fittings for partners including airliner manufacturers Avic and Comac, and Aero Engine Corporation of China. It also has established maintenance, repair, and overhaul infrastructure in the country and other parts of the Asia Pacific region.
“A world-class motor partner is essential for the development of the eVTOL aircraft,” said TCab Tech founder and CEO Yon Wui Ng. “The [Safran] smart motor has a well-advanced certification plan matching our E20 certification needs, which makes it an ideal choice for our eVTOL aircraft.”
Before founding TCab Tech in May 2021, Ng was involved in the Geely automotive group’s Terrafugia TF-2A eVTOL aircraft program as vice general manager for the company. Prior to that, he was head of engineering at Airbus’s Beijing Engineering Center and he has also worked with several Australian general aviation companies.
Other former Geely Terrafugia staffers have also joined TCab Tech as co-founders, including its chief engineer, Huang Yinji, and chief operating officer, Tang Xiaoming. The leadership team also includes Jiang Jun, who was previously a senior vice president with eVTOL developer Autoflight.
In September 2021, TCab Tech reported having raised around $10 million in two seed funding rounds. It said that Decent Capital and BlueRun Ventures backed these rounds.