New York startup Kelekona has outlined an ambitious and frankly jaw-dropping variant on the eVTOL concept – a bus-scale lifting body electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that looks quite a lot like Thunderbird 2.
Its 3D-printed airframe promises to lift off the ground using eight thrust-vectoring fans with variable pitch propellers. These will enable each stage of flight, from vertical takeoff to forward flight and landing.
The idea is the brainchild of Braeden Kelekona, who apparently came up with the concept while stuck on a bus while trying to get to Penn station in New York.
Kelekona claims its lifting body eVTOL will be capable of transporting a maximum of 40 passengers and a pilot — or around 4 tonnes of cargo — for a price comparable to an Amtrak ticket. “One hundred percent we are trying to compete with public transportation,” Kelekona told Digital Trends.
“What we decided to build is a flying battery,” he said. “What that allowed us to do is have greater endurance. Instead of building an interesting airframe and then trying to figure out how to put the battery into that aircraft, we started with the battery first and put things on top of it.” The proposed battery has 3.6 megawatt hours of capacity.
And if he gets the seed funding together, Kelekona says he and the team will be building and flying the prototype at full size by next year. We’ll see.