California, USA-based eVTOL aircraft developer Overair has built the first full-scale prototype of its Butterfly aircraft.
Butterfly features four 20ft diameter rotors – over twice the size of those used by other eVTOL aircraft and is the first to use Optimum Speed Tilt Rotor (OSTR) and Individual Blade Control (IBC) technologies.
The aircraft can carry a pilot and five passengers, has a cruise speed of 180mph (290km/h) and a range of 43 miles (70km). The company is targeting passenger, medical, cargo, and military applications.
Overair completed testing of Butterfly’s propulsion technology in a truck-based test last year.
With assembly of the full-scale prototype complete, Engineers at Overair will next conduct vehicle-level testing at the company’s Santa Ana headquarters in early 2024, before moving the aircraft to a flight test facility in Victorville, California.
Initial testing will focus on validating the integrated propulsion system, flight control mechanics, safety features, and operational efficiency. The testing will also assess the aircraft’s 55-decibel noise target and performance envelope across diverse flight and weather conditions.
“Assembling our first prototype vehicle marks the culmination of years of industry expertise, meticulous development planning, innovative engineering, and the hard work of the entire Overair team,” said Ben Tigner, CEO of Overair. “This seamless transition from propulsion testing to a full-scale prototype underscores our dedication to redefining the eVTOL landscape with safer, quieter, and more reliable aircraft.”
OSTR technology varies propeller revolutions per minute to increase efficiency across vertical, transition, and forward flight phases and can reduce power demand at hover by 60%. IBC reduces vibration and propeller loads, enhances safety, provides smoother ride quality, and lowers maintenance costs.
Combined, Overair says that the technologies will deliver an efficient, quiet, and reliable propulsion system in almost any weather, temperature, or altitude.
Overair was spun out of aerospace manufacturer Karem Aircraft in 2020.
Abe Karem, founder of Karem Aircraft said, “I’m thrilled to see this vehicle come to life. Butterfly is bringing a completely novel approach to aviation and is poised to redefine air transportation.”