While we’ve been busy flying and learning with our subscale demonstrator we’ve also been busy working on the design of our next vehicle: a full-scale piloted technology demonstrator. This is where things get real!
To build our technology demonstrator aircraft, we will take an existing airplane and modify it with Distributed Electric Propulsion. By flying this aircraft, we’ll be able to further validate and refine the design parameters that we’ll eventually use to build our production eSTOL aircraft. It will also serve as a platform for us to continue development on our Virtual Tailhook system (started with our subscale aircraft) capable of making precision takeoffs and landings on the very short runways we’ll be using. And the most exciting thing is that it will be the first aircraft of its kind to fly!
While we can’t yet share a lot of the design details, I can say that we will be using a Cessna 210 as our starting airframe. This workhorse airplane first flew in 1957. It’s changed a little bit over the years, but nothing like the transformation into an eSTOL aircraft that we’re working on. You might ask why we would start with an existing aircraft for this demonstrator. Doing this saves us the effort to design and build the pieces that already work (like the cockpit, fuselage, landing gear, etc.) and lets us concentrate on changing the rest to make it an eSTOL aircraft.
To do this, we’ll remove the existing piston engine and wing and replace them with a new wing and 8 electric motors and propellers. We’ll make some more changes to the aircraft (stay tuned!) to turn it into a true eSTOL aircraft.
We’ve got a fantastic set of partners we’re working with to design and build the aircraft and a world-class supplier for the electric propulsion system. I can’t wait to show you more details as we start building and testing but for now, enjoy a look at our first rendering!