Australian firm successfully tests its eVTOL with a 620-mile range

The aircraft features an electric powertrain and hydrogen fuel range extender.
Jijo Malayil
AMSL Aero's Vertiia
AMSL Aero's Vertiia

An Australian firm has finished its electric VTOL aircraft's first tethered test flight. AMSL Aero's offering, christened Vertiia, aims to provide a safe aircraft that will ease the burden of traffic congestion on people's lives. 

Vertiia is one of the newest VTOL industry entrants that has seen recent activity from players like Jetoptera and ARC Aerosystems.

The concept gains significance not just because it is from the other side of the globe but because it is also one of the most compact designs unveiled in this space, thanks to its box-wing type construction. "The combination of its unique aerodynamic and structural design means it travels further using less energy," according to the firm's website

Vertiia is intended to carry up to five passengers and is designed from the ground up to run on hydrogen fuel as well. The firm is in the process of integrating a hydrogen fuel. 

A highly efficient long-range model 

The firm claims it is the 'world's most efficient electric Vertical Take off and Landing aircraft, owing to its energy-efficient design. The eVTOL will be able to cruise at a maximum speed of 180mph (300km/h) and travel 155 miles (250km) powered purely by electric batteries before recharging.

The range of the aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter, can be further extended to an enviable figure of 620 miles (1,000km) using hydrogen fuel. The firm intends the aircraft to be utilized for aeromedical, emergency services, and passenger markets. 

The firm will also be looking at other areas where it can become helpful in a place as large as Australia. “Taxi operation is one use, and there are lots of people throughout Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane who would love to see their commute shortened significantly by flying from their home directly to work,” Andrew Moore, the co-founder of AMSL Aero, told Financial Review

An added layer of security for clients 

An eVTOL eliminates the shortcomings of a typical helicopter with many single points of failure. A can small error caused due to faulty maintenance can lead to a fatal crash. “Vertiia and eVTOL aircraft use what’s known as distributed electric propulsion, and that allows you to manage failures in a way similar to how a 747 or a large transport aircraft manages failures," Andrew told Financial Review. 

This allows such aircraft to withstand many failures and still land safely. "So really a small eVTOL aircraft can provide the levels of safety that you see in those really large airliners," said Andrew.

To further its testing and certification requirements, the firm closed a series B funding round of $23 million from some of Australia's most established investors last September. The aircraft is expected to be available for commercial use by 2026. 

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