Latest news in VTOL

Many of our customers choose to fly by private aviation to save time. Flexible itineraries and the ability to use so many more airports mean you can get from A to B much faster than with an airline flight.

But how could private air travel be made even faster and more efficient? Take away the airport!

The need to take-off and land on a runway is one of the biggest challenges for aviation efficiency. This means time is added during ground transfers to and from the airport, even if you choose a smaller airport closer to home.

There’re no way around that at the moment in civilian aviation. But what if you could take off from an open space (like a helicopter), but fly faster and further, like an aircraft? That’s why VTOL concepts are getting an increasing amount of attention and investment.

TriFan 600 XTI Aircraft in hanger 700x288

What is a VTOL aircraft?

VTOL stands for vertical take off and landing. A VTOL aircraft takes potential time saving travel to a new level, by avoiding runways entirely.

So this means taking off and landing from a single point, without requiring the horizontal space of a runway. The obvious existing VTOL aircraft is a helicopter (and others exist in military aviation). Though of course helicopters usually only fulfill a short range trip, with limited storage space and higher levels of cabin noise.

So a VTOL passenger aircraft that could combine the agility of a helicopter, with the range, space and comfort of a private jet, is a tantalising prospect. Those with large grounds or gardens could travel with far fewer boundaries, and almost any direct routing could be made possible.

There are a number of VTOL (vertical take off and landing) concepts that are bringing this reality closer than you might think.

The TriFan 600

TriFan 600

The TriFan 600.

The TriFan 600 is a VTOL aircraft concept launched by startup XTI Aircraft Company, in Denver, U.S. The company has launched a crowdfunding operation to try to bring it to reality (read more about this in the recent Financial Times Business Aviation Special Report).

The 6-seater TriFan 600 is designed to match the range and speed of existing small business jets, with a cruising speed of 340 kts and range of 1025 nm. It can take off vertically or on a runway, like a conventional aircraft.

XTI plans a full-scale proof-of-concept aircraft for 2020, and projects deliveries to start between 2024-26.

TriFan 600 landing

The TriFan 600 can land on a single spot, without the need for a runway.

Read more about the TriFan 600 in our previous post: The world’s first jeticopter

Lilium the ‘flying car’

Lilium is an all-electric VTOL aircraft backed by the European Space Agency and led by a team of engineers from Munich’s Technical University.

The small aircraft is already at scaled-down prototype stage with a full-size prototype underway. Lilium aims to open its order book in 2018.

Read more about Lilium in our previous post: Flying cars making the headlines

Lilium skyline

VTOL concept Lilium opens up an infinite variety of possible routings.

Elon Musk’s ‘Tesla with wings’

While no clear details have yet emerged, transport entrepreneur Elon Musk has talked many times about the exciting potential of VTOL electric aircraft.

Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and CEO of SpaceX, believes he has ‘something that might be close’.

Is there market demand for VTOL aircraft?

Earlier this year, Bell Helicopter and Embraer decided to partner up with Uber to develop a hybrid or all-electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles to provide short-range transport within urban centers. While electric-powered aerial taxis still face an array of technological and legal obstacles, the idea of a VTOL taxi could revolutionise the transport industry – flying above road traffic in crowded cities & getting customers where they need to go faster.

In addition to saving time, many of our clients are also interested in choosing aircraft that deliver on latest aviation innovation and technology. So VTOL aircraft will be of interest to the individual high net worth customer, if manufacturers manage to get to market with the avionics and critical elements right.

Customer interest will of course need to be converted with the reassurance of the more down-to-earth factors of safety, price and performance.

There is so much potential for opening up aviation solutions for sectors such as oil and gas, manufacturing and property – flights that involve a site visit to a relatively remote location, where a VTOL aircraft could  offer more range, speed, space and comfort than a conventional helicopter. This would also be the case with medical evacuation flights.

While we wait for VTOL aircraft to become available, our expert Flight Team can give you advice and pricing for any global itinerary by private aircraft or helicopter. Contact us (24 hours) or call +44 (0)20 7100 6960.