Things are proceeding quickly for this Tel Aviv-based company. Emerging from stealth nearly a year ago, Air unveiled its full-scale prototype for the first time a couple of months ago at the Kentucky Derby, having flown a number of smaller-scale prototypes of its design. Now, the full-size machine is airborne and testing is underway.
While it might look like a winged plane, or a lift & cruise-style eVTOL, the One is really an eight-prop coaxial multicopter with a slight twist in the form of two rather heavily-slanted wings. Without a dedicated forward propulsion system, this thing tilts to fly like any other multicopter. It has no fully wing-borne efficient flight mode – nor indeed any control surfaces on the wings – but when it’s fully tilted forward at speed, the wings contribute some lift to take some stress off the props and the powertrain.
Air claims a max speed around 250 km/h (155 mph) and a cruise speed around 160 km/h (100 mph). Peak power is 771 horsepower, maximum payload is 250 kg (551 lb), and Air says it’ll fly for around an hour on a battery charge, delivering a maximum range around 177 km (110 miles).
The full-scale prototype, weighing 868 kg (1,914 lb), made its first flight in a field in Megiddo, Northern Israel, back on June 21. This was a simple tethered hover, nothing too exciting, and the company has had it airborne several times over the last few weeks. Well, nothing too exciting for most people; the Air team goes berserk in the video below, dishing out champagne showers and ice bucket dumps for the cameras like they’ve just won the Superbowl. To be fair, we’ve been known to do that kind of thing around the New Atlas office when somebody posts a really good story too.
“It was truly awe-inspiring to watch Air One lift off the ground for the first time,” said Rani Plaut, CEO & Co-founder of AIR, in a press release. “We’ve been on this upward journey for nearly five years and cannot wait for the public to join us on this ride. This momentous milestone secures Air’s spot as a market leader in the personal air mobility space, making the thrill of flight achievable on a daily basis. We look forward to continued growth as we launch into the next phase of development.”
At a base price of $150,000, it’s some 50 percent more expensive than, say, the Jetson One. But you get 100 percent more seats and three times the flight range, plus a funky-looking flip-top cabin with a windscreen and everything. We’re not seeing any cup holders, but we’ve been surprised in the past. Air says it’s already sold more than 150 of them, with certification and the first customer deliveries both expected in 2024.
Source: Air EV