AMSL Aero’s Vertiia new electric VTOL aircraft is already at the pre-flight prototype stage.
Developed in conjunction with the University of Sydney and autonomy and sensor specialists Mission Systems the aircraft can fly up to 800 km (500 miles) on hydrogen, and it’ll start out as an air ambulance. With eight large props mounted on two wide carbon fiber poles extending from the upper tail and lower front of a slim, pod-shaped cabin, the props have the ability to tilt from pointing vertically upward for takeoff, hover and landing, to fully horizontal in cruise flight.
Small wings attached to the backsides of the props, tilting in unison with the props allow efficient winged flight. AMSL says the aircraft is rated to cruise at around 300 km/h (186 mph) and it’ll be piloted on debut, but will have autonomous capabilities built in.
“This will be “the most efficient eVTOL in the world,” says AMSL.
The Vertiia has a slim, tandem two- or three-seat cabin and a lightweight carbon-fiber construction. The design team has managed to find efficiencies others have missed.
Range will differ depending on energy storage options: Either around 250 km (155 miles) for a battery-powered version, and 800 km (500 miles) on a hydrogen powertrain, which will also enable quick refueling anywhere you can get a hydrogen pump installed.
AMSL Aero has signed a partnership with CareFlight, an aeromedical company that wants to use these clean, convenient aircraft as air ambulances, serving remote communities that may not have access to local airstrips. With a full-size carbon airframe and tilt rotor system already built, it appears there’s still plenty of work to be done with energy storage, electronics and the like, but AMSL says it’s targeting 2023 as the date by which Careflight can start using it as an emergency vehicle.
In Europe, where the eVTOL sector is very active, most companies are targeting 2024 or 2025 for the start of commercial operations, if they can pull together the enormous cash reserves required to get their aircraft certified.
AMSL appears to have made impressive progress on the back of an AU$3 million (US$2.2 million) “Cooperative Research Centres Project” grant from the Australian government and a further AU$3 million investment from IP Group.