One of the defining moments of the new eVTOL and flying taxi surge came in 2011, when Thomas Senkel designed and then flew the first manned multicopter while working for German company E-Volo, which has since rebranded as Volocopter.
Now, as a report by NewAtlas points out, Senkel is working on a new tandem wing eVTOL prototype, called the 'eMagic Aircraft', and the aircraft was recently demonstrated in action.
'It's impossible to stall it'
Senkel left Volocopter in 2016, having complained about the range inefficiency of the company's aircraft at the time. The flying taxi pioneer went on to found the eMagic Aircraft project with pilot and engineer Michael Kugelgen. The new project now has a working prototype called the eMagic One, and it has released footage of Kugelgen flying the machine. Watch the video below to see it in action.
While the footage doesn't show the eMagic One transitioning from vertical to normal flight, Senkel explained that the aircraft is very well suited for that purpose. "The tandem wing configuration gives excellent flight characteristics," Senkel told NewAtlas. "It's impossible to stall it. It softly goes into a higher sink rate when the stick is pulled, but it remains controllable all the time. This behavior is very useful for transition between flight modes."
Tandem-winged prototype boosts eVTOL range
The eMagic One is a hybrid between an aircraft and a multicopter, allowing for five times more range than a standard multicopter. As per an article by AutoEvolution, Senkel brought his expertise in electric drivetrains to the table, while Kugelen worked on the airframe of the eMagic One. Another member of the team, Moritz Pfletschinger, is working on software development for the aircraft and flight controller optimization.
According to eMagic Aircraft's website, the eMagic One is 23.6 ft (7.2 m) long and it has a wingspan of 25.2 ft (7.6 m). The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 882 lb (420 kg). The airframe was designed to be as light as possible and the empty weight of the aircraft stands at an impressive 562 lb (255 kg).
The tandem wing aircraft features custom propellers as well as two independent battery systems, and a shock-absorbing carbon landing gear. It can reach a top speed of 105 mph (170 km/h) and has a flight time of up to an hour.
The Magic Aircraft team has financed the project independently so far, and it is now seeking investment to allow it to further develop the prototype, with a view to turning it into a three-seater flying taxi. The flying taxi revolution is due to take off, with several firms, including Senkel's old employer Volocopter, stating that they will start their services in and around the year 2024. The new type of transport promises to massively reduce transport times and connect rural and urban areas to city centers with great efficiency.