This aircraft is something all pilots should be excited about.
A mysterious bullet-shaped plane was spotted at the Southern California Logistics Airport near Victorville in April 2017. Its unusual design prompted immediate speculation.
Now the Celera 500L has finally been revealed to the world.
This is a private aircraft that promises to fly at jet speeds, but with eight times lower fuel consumption, and a range that’s twice that of a comparably sized aircraft.
So far 31 successful test flights have been performed, bolstering Otto Avaition’s declaration that “the Celera 500L is the most fuel-efficient, commercially viable aircraft in existence.”
The Celera 500L runs at 18 to 25 miles-per-gallon fuel economy (compared to the 2-3 miles-per-gallon of a comparable jet aircraft).
That’s an hourly operating cost of $328 versus $2,000+ , which is about six times lower than comparable jet aircraft. The Celera can fly using Jet-A fuel.
The Celera has a generous 4,500-nautical-mile range.
According to Otto Aviation, the Celera will boast an 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to similar business aircraft.
Maximum cruise speed is projected to reach more than 460 miles per hour (400 knots).
Many light jets and turboprop aircraft max out in the mid 345 miles per hour (300 knots) range.
“Our goal has always been to create a safe and private aircraft that would allow for direct flights in the US at speeds and cost comparable to commercial air travel,” says company CEO Bill Otto Jr.
The range is such that the Celera 500L would be able to service nearly every city pairing in the United States without refueling.
The reason its aircraft can do all this is down to laminar flow.
The Celera 500L is designed to have 59% less drag than conventional aircraft of a similar size.
In laminar flow, the air flows smoothly across a surface and the streamlines move parallel to each other. A laminar-flow boundary layer is very thin – possibly only .02 inches thick. As you move up and away from a surface, the airflow’s speed smoothly increases in a laminar flow boundary layer until it reaches free-stream speed.
The Celera 500L’s fuselage takes advantage of an optimum length-to-width ratio to maximize laminar flow. Laminar shapes are also used for the wings and tail sections.
With its aerodynamic airframe meaning it requires a lot less horsepower to achieve take-off and cruise speeds, the Celera 500L is powered by the liquid-cooled V12 twin six-cylinder RED A03 engine.
The A03 has a multi-stage turbocharger and can run on Jet-A fuel, kerosene, or biodiesel. It’s an extremely high-efficiency design with low fuel consumption and increased reliability over existing piston engines.
While the newly unveiled plane is window-free, the passenger version will have windows which will not have an impact on laminar flow, as they are mounted flush and have the same contours as the exterior shape of the fuselage.
The Celera 500L can seat 6 passengers, with a maximum cabin height of 6 feet 2 inches. That’s significantly larger than most small corporate aircraft.
Otto Aviation still needs to begin the FAA certification process, find a location for a manufacturing facility and create an initial order book. All amidst an industry which has been decimated by a pandemic which has been keeping people in their homes and out of the air.
“Launching amid the current aviation landscape has only bolstered what we aim to provide with the Celera 500L. We believe that when the price of private air travel is competitive with commercial air travel, an enormous market opportunity will result,” says Otto Aviation.
If the air-taxi market becomes more commercially viable, and more affordable, it’s easy to see how it could be attractive to the consumer.
There are enhanced market opportunities in being able to afford to fly with only those you choose to. Being able to avoid crowded airports and lines is a big benefit.
Individuals and families will be able to charter the Celera 500L at prices comparable to commercial airfares, but with the convenience of private aviation.
The proposed ‘Celera XL’ could have another application as a cargo plane.
E-commerce is one of the big winners of the pandemic and with consumers valuing next-day or even same-day delivery, the neat and economical Celera XL could help facilitate this by flying more direct routes into regional airports.
Otto Avaition also has visions for the ‘Celera 1000L’, which is the Celera 500L scaled up 20% while maintaining its laminar flow. This means close to doubling cabin size, allowing more passengers or more freight.
If FAA certification and finding a manufacturing facility goes to plan, the first commercial deliveries of the Celera 500L could happen by 2025.
Innovation is expensive in the aviation industry, and the Celera 500L is still a few years out from mass production, but if makes it through certification, the airplane could be a game-changer.
- Designed To Maximize Laminar Flow
- 450+ MPH Cruise Speeds
- 4,500 NM Range
- Piston-Powered RED A03 V12 Engine
- Luxury Cabin Seating
- 18-25 MPG Fuel Economy
- 80% Carbon Emissions Reduction
The company was founded in 2008 and is an offshoot of Bill Otto’s Otto Laboratories.