Chinese eVTOL startup Pantuo Aviation revealed the Pantala Concept H last year, a sleek ducted fan flying taxi concept that draws comparisons to Lilium.
At the time, the lack of specifications and the fact there was no prototype led to speculation in some quarters that Pantuo Aviation may not really have much to show besides its impressive renders.
Now, after a year of hard work, Pantuo Aviation explains in a statement sent to us by email, it has laid those suspicions to rest by revealing a video of T1, the sub-scaled technology demonstrator of the Pantala Concept H.
T1 is a 1/2 scale demonstrator of the Concept H, which Pantuo Aviation announced last year would fly at speeds of over 300 km/h (186 mph) and have a range of 250 km (155 miles). The full-scale all-electric aircraft will use lithium-ion batteries and features 22 large-diameter electric ducted fans rather than open rotors, the company said at the time.
For T1, the main goal is to verify the feasibility of the tandem layout, and ducted fan wing with a distributed propulsion configuration, Pantuo Aviation said. "Through the development of T1, we have also established advanced multidisciplinary simulation capability, and verify the concept's critical aerodynamics, electrical energy system, and flight control design," the company explained in its statement. You can watch the demonstrator in flight in the video below.
The flying taxi industry is predicted to hit $6.63 billion by 2030
Over the course of the last year, Pantuo Aviation said it has conducted tethered flight tests as well as tests related to production and assembly. It has also run simulations and used a "digital model-based engineering development system" to develop several iterations of its scaled model before reaching the design it has now shown off in its video. The company said its work over the last year has laid a strong foundation for the development of the full-scale Pantala H.
Much like Lilium's ducted fan design, the Pantala H's 22 fans will provide added redundancy to give passengers a safer experience and peace of mind. However, unlike the Lilium aircraft, Pantala H's entire wing tilts as it transitions from vertical to normal flight mode.
Last year, Pantuo Aviation told us that it would start the development of its full-scale model shortly after it had built its 1/2 scale demonstrator. The company aims to earn certification and start its service by 2027 at the latest. eVTOL flying taxis could revolutionize public transport with greatly reduced travel times in urban spaces and between cities. Both Lilium and Volocopter claimed they will start their flying taxi services around 2024. Other players like Pantuo Aviation might have a little catching up to do, but with the flying taxi market expected to reach a value of $6.63 billion by 2030, there will be plenty of space for competition.