Rolls-Royce Gets Into the eVTOL Game, Will Power Vertical Aerospace Machines

By Daniel Patrascu

When the words Rolls-Royce come up, the mind immediately links them to the British maker of luxury automobiles for some reason. But the same name has been behind some of the aviation industry’s biggest advancements over the decades, and it will probably continue to do so in the years ahead. The same name, but not the same company, as Rolls-Royce keeps reminding people.

It is Rolls-Royce Holdings plc, an aerospace and defense company we’re here to talk about today. Together with Vertical Aerospace, also a British company, they’re on the verge of developing one of the world’s first certified passenger carrying eVTOLs.

eVTOL stands for electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, and according to some people, this will be one of the main means of transportation in the near future. VA-4X is how Vertical’s upcoming flying machine is called, a flying contraption equipped with no less than eight propellers.

Vertical plans to take the VA-4X to the skies for the first time by the end of the year and targets the start of production in 2024. When ready, the machine will be capable of taking up to four people on 120-mile (193-km) journeys at speeds of up to 200 mph (322 kph).

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Dutch Students Just Unveiled the World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft

Courtesy AeroDelft

By DANIEL BACHMANN

“Phoenix PT,” scheduled to fly next summer, is a prototype of a full-scale, two-passenger aircraft that will make its first flight in 2022.

While hydrogen-powered aircraft have been viewed with skepticism by many mainstream aviation experts, a team of students in the Netherlands plans to fly the world’s first aircraft with liquid-hydrogen fuel cells in July. The students from Delft University of Technology, calling themselves the AeroDelft team, just revealed a prototype called Phoenix PT.

Delft University also achieved another milestone last September, successfully demonstrating a prototype of the Flying V, a blended-wing design that promises to be much more fuel-efficient than traditional commercial aircraft.

AeroDelft just announced that it recently completed the ground tests for the crew-less Phoenix PT, which weighs about 113 pounds. It will carry two pounds of liquid hydrogen for its maiden flight. AeroDelft calculates Phoenix PT will have a range of 311 miles and flight time of up to seven hours.

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NASA’s Experimental Electric Airplane Edges Closer to Its First Flight

Concept art of the electric, 14-motor X-57 Maxwell in flight.


By Isaac Schultz

Looking every bit like a winged tube of toothpaste, NASA’s X-57 Maxwell experimental plane sits in a hangar at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The is NASA’s first crewed experimental plane in 20 years; it runs solely on electric power, an agency first, and it’s about to undergo high-voltage functional testing in advance of its first flight, scheduled for later this year.

“Currently, we have a battery emulator that we’re using to provide power to the aircraft,” said Nick Borer, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, in a video call. “But this is the first time we’ve had the low-voltage and high-voltage systems operating together.”

NASA’s compendium of experimental aircraft, or X-planes, speaks to the agency’s long history of sussing out the future of flight. They range from kite-shaped, Bush-era combat drones to the Eisenhower administration’s autogyro, which sounds like a Greek dish that eats itself but looks more like a tricked-out tricycle combined with a helicopter. The new electric craft certainly looks more like a plane than any of them, and will have 14 propellers.

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Hmm: United Airlines Orders 200 Electric Air Taxis

Pre-pandemic a major focus for airlines was investing in sustainable aviation (probably due to social pressure). This has come in the form of carbon offsetting flights, as well as committing to investing in more sustainable forms of aviation.

Well, United Airlines has just announced its first plans to operate electric planes, though it’s not what you’d think, and the headline almost reads like it could be an April Fools’ joke.In this post:

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Airspeeder launches world’s first electric flying race car


A new racing series which hopes to emulate the pod racing from Star Wars has launched its first electric flying race car.

Airspeeder has unveiled the Mk3, which will form the basis of the company’s maiden season in 2021. The vehicles, which will race at speeds in excess of 120 km/h in its first year, will be remotely controlled by pilots on the ground.

Airspeeder hopes to develop the Mk3 into a manned racing craft for the 2022 season. Company founder Matt Pearson has previously stated his desire for Airspeeder to turn into a series similar to the pod racing featured in Star Wars: A Phantom Menace.

The Mk3 has been in the pipeline for three years. Airspeeder aims to “create a sport that will accelerate a new clean-air aerial mobility revolution”. More than 10 identical racing vehicles will be produced and supplied to teams in 2021.

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These Futuristic Flying Ambulances May Soon Be Zooming Around New York

By Vanessa Bates Ramirez 

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Ambulance use surged in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as emergency medical service providers struggled due to the revenue hit they took from delayed and canceled elective procedures. While we’re fervently hoping that far fewer people will need ambulances this year, there may soon be a whole new means of emergency transportation, at least in New York: flying ambulances.

Israeli aerospace company Urban Aeronautics announced this week that it sold its first four vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft to Hatzolah Air, a nonprofit emergency medical air transport provider based in New York. The organization already operates fixed-wing aircraft (meaning propeller-driven or powered by a jet engine, with wings that don’t move) as part of its emergency missions.

To that end, “flying ambulances” isn’t a new concept; they’ve existed for a long time in the form of helicopters and planes. In fact, the Association of Air Medical Services estimates that around 550,000 people get medevaced in the US each year.

But Urban Aeronautics’ Cormorant CityHawk, as the aircraft is called, will bring some functional new features to the skies. Though it’s lightweight and has a compact footprint, its interior cabin is 20 to 30 percent larger than that of a helicopter, meaning it will be able to fit two EMTs, the patient plus a companion, and medical equipment (plus the pilot) without things getting too cramped.

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NASA Air Taxi Partnership Takes Autonomous Flight Sky-high


David Mantey
 Dec 09, 2020 

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Nasa AirTaxi

There’s nothing more exciting than the thought of being ferried around in an autonomous flying taxi, unless you’re a risk averse person… in which case, there is probably nothing LESS exciting than the thought of a self-flying air taxi.

But regardless of your personal inclinations, there are some exciting developments being made as it relates to autonomous passenger flight, and it involves the biggest name is aerospace: NASA.

NASA has announced that it has established a partnership with Wisk, the urban air mobility company behind the world’s first first autonomous, all-electric air taxi featuring vertical takeoff and landing. 

Wisk’s craft, called Cora, has undertaken more than a thousand test flights since taking to the air in 2017 and the company hopes that by teaming up with NASA, the two organizations can help build a framework for autonomous passenger flight on a national scale.

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Arriving soon: Electric aviation for passengers

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Drone pilots don’t need to be told about the wonders of electric flight. But Scientific American believes electric aviation for passengers may be here sooner than we think as the industry struggles to decarbonize.

It’s one of the top ten emerging technologies the magazine highlights in its most recent issue.

In an article co-written by Katherine Hamilton and Tammy Ma, the authors point out that air travel accounted for 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions in 2019. And that number could triple by 2050. Electric airplanes could be one solution.

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By 2024, 5G could be beamed to your phone using huge, hydrogen-powered aircraft

 

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A Stratospheric Platforms antenna, inside a testing chamber

In the near future, your phone may take its 5G signal from the sky instead of a nearby mast on the ground. It’s an innovative way to solve the problem of increasing connectivity without relying on thousands of terrestrial cell towers. The concept is known as a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), and it essentially takes the cell tower from the ground and puts it in the sky.

The latest HAPS project to be unveiled is from Stratospheric Platforms and Cambridge Consultants. Today, the pair revealed the core of its efforts, a special antenna and unmanned aircraft, which it has been working on confidentially for the last four years.

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The cabin of the Bell 525 Relentless helicopter will make the best of the private jets look bland

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In 2012, Bell Helicopter launched its newest offering that was something radically different and its most ambitious project in years. Dubbed the ‘Bell 525 Relentless’, the “super-medium” twin-engine helicopter is to be the first commercial helicopter to incorporate fly-by-wire flight controls and also the company’s largest civil helicopter ever. Initially designed to meet the grueling demands of offshore oil operations, the company will also offer the helicopter with a variety of luxurious cabin interiors. For the first time, Bell has given a peek inside the cabin that shows a sample of VIP interior options, including oversize swivel seating, conference layouts, and a mini galley.

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This $500,000 motorcycle transforms into a flying quadcopter in just 60 seconds

 

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For decades, we have been waiting for a fully-functional flying car – an idea mostly made popular by sci-fi movies. However, it still remains to be an unrealized dream. But, guess what? It turns out that someone has been successful in building a motorcycle, instead of a car, that can fly! A French company called Lazareth recently demonstrated a futuristic-looking motorcycle, which looks like it came straight out of the sets of Transformers, and it can actually transform into a flying hoverbike in just 60 seconds. Called the Lazareth LMV 496, the flying motorcycle is being hailed as “the very first motorcycle in the world that can be transformed into a quadricopter.” Affectionately dubbed La Moto Volante, it’s the brainchild of designer Ludovic Lazareth and his team. The company even published a video of the motorcycle showcasing its capabilities.

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