The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Aircraft Design Legend Burt Rutan Stays Tightlipped About eVTOL Plans

Burt Rutan has been at the cutting edge of aircraft design for decades. When he sold his Scaled Composites company in 2011, many might have assumed he was transitioning to a well-earned retirement. Then, at an October 20, 2019, event to mark the 40th anniversary of the first flight of his Long EZ aircraft, 76-year-old Rutan let slip that he's working on a design for an eVTOL aircraft. As if realizing that he might have said too much, he declined to provide his audience, and a select group of reporters, with any further details.

It would certainly be well within Rutan's capabilities to design such an aircraft. The main question raised by his unexpected reveal is who might be behind these plans. Has one of the sector's numerous start-ups enlisted the veteran's services? Or is someone placing a bet on Rutan's being able to get an aircraft to market himself?

What is known is that Ben Diachun, president of Blackfly eVTOL aircraft developer Opener, was formerly president of Scaled Composites. In an interview conducted during the July 2019 EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Rutan acknowledged discussing the Blackfly program with Diachun and that he encouraged them to conduct public demonstration flights during the event.

Don't hold your breath for more details on Rutan's plans. But FutureFlight is on the case.