A new way to take to the sky is about to hit the market.
A company in Japan won a one hundred-grand "disruptor award" during the GoFly personal flight contest in 2020, and, after months of waiting, it's unveiled its first commercial vehicle at OshKosh: a single-seating 33-rotor Mk5 personal eVTOL, according to an initial report from New Atlas.
Clear your schedule, because customer deliveries start in 2022.
Tetra's production-grade eVTOL can lift one 200-lb pilot
The Mk5 aircraft is lightweight, has only one seat, and is designed to simply lift and cruise with 32 vertical rotors strewn about its wide, thin wings equipped before and behind a small cabin, in addition to a single pusher propeller on the rear for once you're ready to cruise. The frame is primarily aluminum, with the bodywork composed of a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymer, in addition to some aramid fibers thrown into the mix. The new prototype was revealed at OshKosh and already took flight. It's 28.2 ft (8.62 m) wide, 20.2 ft (6.15 m) long, and 8.2 ft (2.51 m) tall, which means it will definitely take up space in a typical garage.
Running on a 13.5-kWh battery pack, the Mk5 weighs 1,076 lbs (488 kg) when empty, and can takeoff with a hefty 1,250-lb (576-kg) load, but this only leaves 174 lbs (79 kg) for the pilot. Some of you will need to lose weight to ride the initial Tetra aircraft model, else it'll show why at full throttle by reaching a full stop. But fear not: This only goes for the prototype version of the single-seating aircraft. The production model will take a heavier 200-lb (91-lb) pilot, and cruise through the air at 100 mph (169 km/h), reaching distances up to 100 miles (160 km) on a single charge. In other words, anyone with roof access (and several permits, probably) might use one of these to escape a major city for a while.
New single-seating eVTOL options are multiplying
Notably, Tetra's aircraft is also safe, with at least three redundant flight controllers that can redistribute power throughout 32 vertical lift propellers, just in case the pilot experiences flight controller or motor failure. The battery pack might not have such redundancies, but if you're really, really high and about to plummet, you can use a conventional ballistic parachute and stay alive. Tetra also aims to build and sell the novel aircraft as a home-built experimental kit, which means you can potentially fly one with a private pilot's license. At least, in the United States. Of course, the company will also sell pre-built aircraft, and may certify them, but this won't involve the highly bureaucratic process of commercial certifications that air taxi manufacturers are facing.
Sadly, there's no officially listed price yet, but if it becomes too pricey, it's possible that "buy 'n' fly" personal eVTOLs from other manufacturers could be cheaper. Next UAS is developing a simplified model of a single-seating personal eVTOL, and Opener's BlackFly was also present at OshKosh this year, where it executed crewed flights of its unconventional design. The future is bright for air-worthy personal aircraft, and in the coming years, it could transform the skies of the world.