The British multinational giant GKN Aerospace is helping develop next-generation sustainable flight technology and has shared details of its designs as part of the Future Flight Challenge, a four-year program that promotes solutions for sustainable aviation.
One such project is a plane called Skybus: an eVTOL capable of carrying 30 to 50 passengers at one time to travel over congested parts of cities. This could be a glimpse of future public transport.
The Skybus challenge is part of the UK government initiative to move forward with electric aviation, air traffic control, eVTOL air taxis, sensor technologies and more.
Much more than an air taxi
The Skybus appears to be much more than a small eVTOL air taxi. It will be more like a flying public bus that operates at fixed times to cross cities from above. The plan is to reduce commuter-driven traffic by minimizing existing ground-based public transport systems.
A journey that starts from afar
The prospects for a Skybus-like eVTOL are decades away and will require huge improvements in propulsion systems and energy density. The journey is long, in short, and starts from afar…. The photo shows the Fairey Rotodyne, a prototype vertical mass transport aircraft for over 50 passengers, first flown in 1954. Concern for noise was a major cause of the program cancellation.
Not just Skybus
The other two projects the company is witnessing are Safe Flight e NAPKIN. Little is known about the second, I have not found a reference. The first addresses the technological issues related to the integration of autonomous systems in the current airspace. And the latter will be the embryo of a sustainable national air network across the UK, aiming for zero carbon emissions.
Max Brown , VP Technology GKN Aerospace, said: “We are committed to a more sustainable future for aviation and our technologies will keep us at the forefront of this challenge. No company can achieve this alone, and these Future Flight Challenge programs underscore the importance of collaboration in achieving this goal. "
The Skybus rendering available in the GKN Aerospace press release depicts a tilt-rotor quadcopter with dual wings. Of course, we need to see at least the first working prototype, but for the moment the idea is exciting.