These are exciting times for technology. New advancements are being made everday in every field, and aviation is no exception. The flight envelope is being pushed in every direction by both private companies and government agencies and there are hundreds of projects underway around the world, each with the potential to bring a new flying machine to the market place. The machines presented below are just a handful of examples; this list is by no means even remotely comprehensive or anywhere close to being a representation of all the ideas being pursued. In short, these are just a few things that caught my eye over the last several months.
Otto Aviation, a California company, is developing the six-passenger Celera 500L for the private business jet sector. Their performance claims should make the competition more than a little nervous. Technically, the Celera 500L is not a jet but a piston-engine pusher-propeller aircraft designed to cruise at 460mph (comparable to jet speeds). The 500L is expected to: achieve 18-25 mpg (versus 2-3 mpg for similar-size jet); cost only $328 per hour to operate (vs. $2,100 per hour for similar-size jet); have a range of 4,500 nautical miles (better than most jets); all while exceeding government targets for reductions in carbon emissions. The secret is in the shape of the aircraft, which is modeled after a .50 caliber bullet. The engine and propeller are in the back to reduce cabin noise as well as to improve aerodynamics. Yeah, okay, it does look like a blimp, but if it meets its performance projections, who cares? It’s a thing of beauty!
“CELERA 500L Aircraft Otto Aviation – INTERIOR FLY TEST SPECS” (4:30):
Eviation, an Israeli company, is building an all-electric nine-passenger commuter aircraft they call Alice. The company has already secured orders from a small US commuter airline. Notice the motor and propeller are in the back, just like the Celera 500L. Seems to be a trend!
“Eviation’s All-Electric Alice Regional Airliner Secures a Major Launch Order – AINtv” (4:38):
Lilium Jet, a five-passenger air taxi meant for short distances is being developed by Lilium GmbH, a German company. Powered by multiple electric ducted-fans on each of its four wings, the craft takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter.
“The Lilium Jet five seater all-electric air taxi” (2:48):
Boom Supersonic, a Denver-based company, has ambitious plans to pick up where the Concorde SST left off. They’ve built a test platform, the XB-1, which is a small, scaled-down aircraft with room enough only for the test pilot. The XB-1, which looks more like a fighter jet than an airliner, will make its maiden flight in 2021. They hope to follow-up with a full-sized supersonic airliner that will seat 44 passengers and enter service by the end of the decade. The company claims the SST-replacement will fly from New York to London in 3.5 hours, and Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia in 7 hours – basically cutting time-in-flight in half, or better. Tickets will be $5,000 each.
“On the runway | XB-1 Rollout” (1:16):
Question of the Night: Are you looking forward to being able to safely travel by air again once the pandemic is over?