It is clear that most eVTOL manufacturers are content with constructing air taxis with only two or three seats. Why stop carrying a handful of passengers when we could carry dozens of them?
The young New York company Kelekona is apparently asking itself this question. As we learn from the futureflight.aero website, it works on an electric aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing like no other. This emission-free machine, which is somewhat reminiscent of an airship, is a real air minibus and can carry up to 40 people at the same time.
With the exception of the famous Lilium seven-seat concept, most of the eVTOL prototypes we’ve discovered in recent years offered fewer than five seats. The Kelekona concept has proven to be particularly ambitious. It is essentially a public transport aircraft. With a payload of just over 4.5 tonnes, it will not only be able to transport people but also freight. In addition, in addition to the ambition to make it a public means of transport, the young American shoot also plans to use it in the military sector. An ambulance version is also in preparation.
A particularly fast eVTOL
Payload capacity is not the only feature that impresses us on this electric aircraft under development at Kelekona. Granted, the company is a bit stingy with information, but promises on its website that the eVTOL can cross the 531 kilometers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just one hour. In short, the device will be faster compared to most taxi drones from other manufacturers. Then it is important to know how Kelekona intends to accomplish such feats. That remains to be seen as we only know about the design.
An atypical look straight out of a science fiction film. Image credit: Kelekona
“A combination of stereo camera and radar offers a wide field of vision for the detection and avoidance of unknown aircraft, flocks of birds and meteorological anomalies,” the manufacturer states on its website.
Eight electric motors with adjustable blades
In fact, the startup shared a video showing the device taking off, moving forward, and landing. To provide thrust, Kelekona plans to use 8 electric turbines with variable pitch blades. And while eVTOLs often use wings to create lift, the concept is based on a body that, with its profile reminiscent of an airplane wing, creates such a force.
We also know Kelekona will choose replaceable batteries to cut turnaround time between flights. The company has yet to provide a specific schedule for the introduction of its eVTOL. However, the concept is unique and therefore deserves a close watch.
The concept closest to that of Kelekona is without a doubt GKN Aerospace’s Skybus. But although it offers up to 50 seats, the aircraft has two huge wings. This makes it less efficient to operate in urban areas.