Chinese eVTOL-developer AutoFlight has relaunched its eVTOL development plans in Europe with a new senior hire and by opening a new R&D and certification site.
A new subsidiary AutoFlight Europe will be the successor to its now defunct AutoFlightX subsidiary, which was founded in 2018 and was also based in Germany.
AutoflightX was developing the V600, a five passenger eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that was shown as a prototype in 2019, but which is no longer “part of the portfolio”, said Autoflight.
Instead AutoFlight Europe will develop and certify in Europe the Prosperity I, a four-seat eVTOL aircraft with a range of 250km (155 miles). The EASA certification program is expected to start this year and will be headed up by former Airbus program manager Mark Henning from a new site at Augsburg Airport, Germany.
Augsburg will host the R&D and certification work needed to achieve EASA certification of its new Prosperity I air taxi by 2025 said AutoFlight Europe. “A dedicated and growing team will work in Augsburg” and the company “plans to establish additional locations for test and demonstration flights across Europe” it said in a statement.
Tian Yu, AutoFlight’s founder, chairman and CEO said, “I am delighted that Mark Henning is joining AutoFlight in Europe to build our Prosperity I air taxi according to EASA safety standards.”
AutoFlight, which has its headquarters in Shanghai, China was founded in 2016. The company has evolved a range of consumer drones into heavy-lift cargo and logistics eVTOL aircraft, the V50 and V400 albatross.
Prosperity I, which has previously been known as the V1500M, is AutoFlight’s first passenger-carrying eVTOL and made its first flight in October last year.
Prosperity I uses a lift and cruise configuration, and has a maximum take-off weight of 1,500kg (3,305 lbs). The company said it will reveal the progress made in the transition tests it has already conducted in the next few weeks.
AutoFlight Europe’s managing director Henning said, “We are bringing aircraft construction back to Augsburg as we build drones and create a completely new market segment for air taxis. What I really like about AutoFlight and Prosperity I is the underlying simple concept. Simplicity translates into safety and efficiency.”