Zeva Aero, an American startup, has built a prototype of a single-seater aircraft that resembles a flying saucer, the testing of which has already begun.
Zeva Aero hopes the project will be of interest to the US military.
The prototype designed by Zeva Aero is essentially an air taxi tailsitter: it can take off vertically, fly horizontal and land back vertically. Tailsiters have good flying characteristics.
Zeva Aero’s Zero tailsitter looks like a disc; it has a diameter of 2.4 meters and weighs 317 kilograms. It is made of carbon fiber.
While the first Zero prototype was equipped with batteries of around 20-kilowatt hours capacity, the production model is slated to have slightly larger capacity of around 25-kilowatt hours.
Once it enters production, Zeva Aero estimates that it will sell for around $250,000 per unit.
According to the developers, when the flying saucer is in the starting position, it is sitting on its “plate” and you can climb into it through the hatch at the back.
In a test, the Zero took off vertically and after 20 seconds switched to horizontal flight mode. Zero can currently fly up to 80 kilometers and has the capability to develop a speed of up to 257 kilometers per hour.
In a statement Zeva Aero’s CEO Stephen Tibbits said, the full-scale Zero prototype was ready and flying with insurance cables.
In three to four weeks, the startup will start testing remote-controlled air taxis and will switch to manned flights within three to six months.
The company hopes the tailsitter will be used not only as an air taxis but also by the US military and emergency services.