Workhorse flies SureFly
Electric transport company Workhorse has flown its personal vtol aircraft for the first time.
Workhorse’s SureFly vtol took off on its first untethered flight just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio last week. The aircraft hovered briefly, a few feet off the ground before landing.
SureFly is a two-person vtol with a drone-inspired design. The aircraft has a 400-pound payload capacity and a max range of 70 miles. Workhorse claims the helicopter is easier to fly than a standard helicopter, being controlled by a single joystick similar to those found on drones, as well as being cheaper to operate.
Affordability seems to be the standout feature of the aircraft, with Workhorse aiming for a target price of under $200,000. It is one of the very few vtol aircraft in development for which a target price that been announced.
SureFly features a total of eight rotors, with two contra-rotating propellers per arm and with each propeller driven by eight motors. The prototype is operated by one pilot and can carry one passenger and cargo – with a maximum take-off weight of 1500lbs.
It is powered by a gasoline piston engine with two lithium-ion batteries, each with a capacity of 7.5kWh, as a backup. This drives vtol to a top-speed of 70 mph for a total of one hour of flight.
Workhorse is targeting the private market rather than the emerging air taxi market. It envisages commercial uses for the aircraft, naming precision-agriculture markets, emergency responders and military use as well as short-range city commutes.
Steve Burns, CEO of SureFly said in a video of the flight: “Today we lifted off for the first time in Cincinatti, a huge milestone for our company…
“There are a lot of short-hop applications if you feel the aircraft is safe and easy to fly. For a craft like this, hovering is not much different to flying. Later we might hover 5 feet, then 10 feet, then eventually a full flight.”
The company claims it is the only OEM with the necessary FAA experimental certification to test an experimental vtol within the US.
The SureFly is not the first vtol of its kind to fly however, Chinese start-up Ehang flew a number Chinese officials and company board members on short flights in Lianyungang city in Feburary and German air-taxi manufacturer Volocopter flew its first passenger – Intel CEO Brian Krzanich – at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
SureFly was also intended to fly on its maiden flight in January at CES but had to cancel due to weather conditions.
The video of the flight can be seen on Workhorse Group’s YouTube channel.