XTI Aircraft is moving towards the production of the “fastest and most range VTOL in the world”, with certification and the start of full-scale production expected by the end of 2024.
The VTOL Trifan 600 will fly up to eight passengers in a huge range: up to 750 miles (1.200 km). The speed also promises to be impressive: up to 345 mph (555 km / h).
Masters of the sky
These big "eagles" would really dominate the electric VTOL space; Trifan's range is seven times that promised by most urban eVTOLs, but the XTI one is not a pure eVTOL.
Instead of a simple battery-powered electric thruster it will house a hybrid system, using high-powered batteries to manage takeoff and landing, but employing a GE catalytic turboprop engine to extend its flight range.
So it might be the fastest, longest-range VTOL, but if we open the field to include fossil fuels, well, the Soviets had "Yak" VTOL fighters that operated 50 years ago flying longer distances at respectable speeds ...
In any case, the company accelerates the procedures for the start of the project
“We are very confident that we will be the first commercial long-range fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The market has been waiting for this for a long time, ”says Bob LaBelle, CEO of XTI Aircraft.
The Trifan 600 looks a lot like a traditional fixed-wing aircraft, but is capable of vertical takeoff thanks to a pair of huge tilting fans on the front edges of its wings and a third fan ducted into the plane's body behind the cabin. It will be a fairly simple VTOL to fly, running on an electronically controlled fly-by-wire system that will manage the electric motors, thrust vector and control surfaces in response to the pilot's commands.
And then it will be versatile. It will also be possible to take off and land in the traditional way, almost doubling its autonomy. If there is a runway, Trifan will be able to set off to fly over 1.380 miles (2.200 km).
Even without a runway, however, this could be a killer machine in the private and business jet market, flying smoothly for distances like Los Angeles to San Francisco, or London to Berlin.
The price of this VTOL could also upset the market
Starting at $ 6,5 million per unit (which could accommodate one pilot and five passengers), the XTI it will have a super competitive price for a corporate market. Currently the best-selling aircraft in that sector is the Gulfstream G500, and it costs $ 44 million per piece. Yes, it goes much farther and faster, but it will never hold its own in comfort and affordability than the Trifan.
So it's no surprise that XTI already claims $ 1,3 billion in sales, with over 200 VTOLs already booked.
Before it can start delivering its VTOLs, XTI obviously needs to get certified. It won't be a problem, says LaBelle. Without the need for new charging infrastructures or new runways, the company can submit the request for certification according to current regulations and operate perfectly within the current airspace system of all countries in the world.
When do we leave? And will it always be a hybrid VTOL or…?
The plan is to get a full-size test aircraft in 2022, with FAA-type certification scheduled for 2024 and start of production the same year.
In my opinion, currently no other VTOL aircraft come even close to this.
The TriFan 600 (with VTOLs following it) will transform the light commercial aircraft market, providing greener air travel (but the optimum would be to have them fully electric or hydrogen) without compromising safety and performance.
See VTOL in action in this short video.