One-Seat eVTOL Needs No Certificate to Fly–and It’s Ready for Piloted Tes
Many Americans are suffering from the urge to fly but do not have the energy or time to dedicate the many hours required to obtain a pilot’s certificate. However, if they have the funds, the personal aircraft for which the pilot doesn’t require a certificate to fly is now closer to becoming a production.
Rotor X Aircraft, a 50-year-old company that produces primarily two-seat kit helicopters for experimental use, announced it would soon begin piloted testing of its pre-production Dragon Ultralight built-it-yourself electrical vertical takeoff and land (eVTOL) concept that can be operated without a certification within the U.S.
The Chandler, Arizona-based firm on Thursday released the footage of Dragon’s last unmanned flight tests that occurred earlier in July. The pre-production prototype, unveiled to the public at EAA AirVenture in July, is shown flying off, hovering, and cruising at a low altitude across the Arizona desert. Also not visible are an air-to-air ballistic chute and a safety cage, which will be part of the final model.
Based on Rotor X, The flights opened the way for testing with crews to begin in September. The company will start mass production of Dragon in March if everything goes as planned. Customers can deposit $19,500 to add their names to the list of preorders. Delivery is expected to begin in the spring of next year, and the total cost of less than $90,000 will be due after they are delivered.
Too Good to be True?
There are a handful of aircraft designs on the market at that can be flown without a pilot’s license, for example, those like the Aerolite 103, Quicksilver MX 103, and the Phantom X1. However, none of them has eVTOL capabilities.
The FAA has had to fight to define the right way to train and certify EVTOL pilots. With Dragon, future aviators will not have to fret about this aspect of federal rulemaking.
Rotor The X company has developed affordable, lightweight, low-cost helicopter kits for over fifty years. The flagship product is the Phoenix A600 Turbo, launched following its 2021 acquisition of helicopter maker RotorWay with various levels of achievement. However, in December, the company entered eVTOL through the announcement that it was launching Dragon and the launch of preorders.
The design originated in military technology and was born out of a contract with AFWERX, the innovation branch of the U.S. Air Force. The agreement was a part of Defense aircraft manufacturer Advanced Tactics, hired to design and build a cheap multirotor, high-performance aircraft for the army.
With an empty weight of less than 254 lbs, Dragon is classified as a Part 103 ultralight aircraft. This means that it can fly without a pilot’s license. However, users must adhere to ultralight rules. Rotor X will instruct users how to fly the aircraft and help them understand operating rules in training facilities nationwide, including California, Arizona, and Texas.
The all-electric, one-seat private air car, also known as PAV in the manner that Rotor X calls it, can hold one passenger that weighs up to 250 pounds. It can fly for up to 20 minutes at 60 miles per hour (54 knots) and can be recharged in less than two hours. The power system is based on independent, swappable battery packs controlled by redundant flight controllers that will allow for extended flight time.
Rotor X bills Dragon as a “quick-build kit,” which it claims–incredibly–can be assembled over a weekend. Customers can make deposits through their Dragon website–after the first 100 preorders have been placed, pricing will go up between $89,500 and $99,000.
Due to the uniqueness of Dragon’s design, safety will surely be a worry for pilots. It’s unclear what height Dragon will be able to fly, and even an accident due to a power or other failure at a low altitude could result in a catastrophe for the person riding. In addition, with a lack of knowledge in operating it, inexperienced pilots and untrained aircraft will likely make an unpleasant mix.