Israel tests first eVTOL taxis and drones in urban airspace

These flights involved carrying heavy cargo loads and demonstrated the potential for future transportation of people over long distances.
Jijo Malayil
An eVTOL being tested
An eVTOL being tested

Innovation Israel  

Electric Vertical Landing and Takeoff Vehicle (eVTOL) is the buzzword in the aerospace industry, with multiple firms and even countries launching initiatives to become market leaders. To that extent, test flights of eVTOL aircraft were carried out in Israel as it prepares its national airspace for air taxi transportation and multiple drone delivery services.

The test was part of Israel's National Air Drone Initiative (INDI) week-long simultaneous flying tests and demonstrations at various locations nationwide. The second phase of the INDI project, which was started earlier this year, featured tests and experimental flights last week in Israel by 11 drone operating and delivery firms.

According to a press release, the first eVTOL autonomous aircraft test flights with long-range capabilities were successfully conducted in a managed urban airspace, UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management). These flights involved carrying heavy cargo loads and demonstrated the potential for future transportation of people over long distances.

The project has been in operation since 2019, and over 60 million shekels will be invested in it over the next two years to prepare the sky for drone deliveries across Israel, together with regulators and private companies. 

Companies showcased their innovative aircraft and intelligent command-and-control systems

The overall goal of the project was to deliver commercial and public services while employing drones to transport people and heavy cargo between locations and reduce traffic congestion on Israel's congested roadways.

Small freight flights were the main emphasis of the national drone initiative's initial phase, which ran from 2019 to 2022. Several companies participated in these groundbreaking tests, showcasing their innovative aircraft and intelligent command-and-control systems.

One of the companies, AIR, flew the AIR ZERO, an eVTOL aircraft manufactured in Israel. The AIR ZERO can accommodate up to two passengers and carry a total payload of up to 485 pounds (220 kilograms). It demonstrated its capabilities by flying a distance of up to 352 pounds (160 kilometers) autonomously.

Dronery, a subsidiary of Cando Drones, also achieved a significant milestone by successfully conducting the inaugural flight of EHANG's EH216-S aircraft. This innovative aircraft can carry two passengers with a total payload of up to 485 pounds (220 kilograms). It flew autonomously without a pilot onboard, relying on EHANG's intelligent command-and-control system. The flight took place at the Pal-Yam landing pad in Caesarea and covered 18 miles (30 kilometers).

Cando Drones conducted delivery flights between Rami Levy Supermarket branches and night flights in the coastal strip of Hadera in collaboration with the municipality. It also engaged in traffic monitoring activities at the Nesher-Bar-Yehuda junction.

The longest flight covered 18 miles

Down Wind, another participant, achieved the longest flight in the initiative to date, covering approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers). Their objective was to establish a flight path between Hillel Yaffe Medical Center and Rambam Medical Center.

Sentrycs, Flytech, and Cando collaborated on a test to ensure a safe flight environment for authorized drones. Their focus was on creating secure airspace for the operation of drones.

ATI, in partnership with TA Helicopters, explored eVTOL landing options in city centers. They conducted a flight path from Kfar Truman to the center of Tel Aviv, with a landing in Reading, to evaluate potential landing locations.

According to Dror Bin, CEO of the Innovation Authority, Israel is a world leader in this area, and this experiment marks a significant turning point in the National Drone Initiative, which attracted attention on a global scale. 

The initiative is a partnership between government entities led by the Ministry of Transportation, the Israel Innovation Authority, Ayalon Highways Ltd., and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI). 

This article was written and edited by a human, with the assistance of Generative AI tools. Find out more about our policy on AI-powered writing here.

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