One of the first applications of a hydrogen-fuelled vertical take-off and landing aircraft being developed in Israel is set to be as an air ambulance, after an agreement was made between its developers and US-based Hatzolah Air.
Urban Aeronautics’ CityHawk vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) hydrogen powered aircraft is planned to be a car-sized VTOL without external rotors or wings, so it can “fly and land where no other vehicle can” according to the company. The CityHawk uses technology that Urban Aeronautics is also being used in the unmanned Cormorant aircraft, which it is developing via its subsidiary Tactical Robotics for the Israeli Defense Forces.
The Cormorant, previously called the AirMule, has been flying for several years and has conducted more than 300 test flights.
Urban Aeronautics’ aircraft are using ducted fan technology called Fancraft for propulsion, a multi-directional internal rotor. Boeing signed an agreement earlier this year to explore possible applications for the technology, while in June Urban Aeronautics announced it is to develop a hydrogen-fuelled version of the CityHawk.
Urban Aeronautics plans to complete development of the CityHawk, achieve FAA certification for emergency use and be ready for production within three to five years.
Hatzolah Air is the aviation division of Hatzolah, an emergency medical service (EMS) organization that currently operates fixed-wing aircraft.
“We are excited to partner with Hatzolah Air on the development of our CityHawk EMS vehicle,” said Rafi Yoeli, CEO of Urban Aeronautics. “Its compact size will enable it to land in the middle of a busy city street, making it a perfect fit for medical evacuation missions by dramatically decreasing the time it takes to arrive on-scene, treat and transport sick or injured patients to appropriate medical facilities.”
Urban Aeronautics’ engineers will work closely with Hatzolah’s experts to tailor the CityHawk flying vehicle to accommodate a pilot, a patient plus companion, two personnel, and a complete package of life support equipment.
“Based on our initial estimates, we foresee a potential market of at least 800 CityHawks for Hatzolah and other EMS operators, with the possibility to save thousands of lives every year,” said Eli Rowe, President of Hatzolah Air.