4 Wings 8 Electric Motors: Will eVTOL ‘Axe’ Personal Airplane Replace Cars?
Electric vertical and takeoff landing personal airplanes are coming out of the woodwork. We’ve featured a number of these flying cars and all have their finer points. Some are in the early stages of development while others are in the process of being certified. The eVTOL Axe by Skyfly is taking a different approach to personal aircraft. Let’s take a look.
What’s different about the Axe airplane?
The unique feature of the Axe is that its eight motors, two per wing tip, there are no rotating wings or motors. Each motor is fixed to the wings. Only one motor per wing tip is necessary. This saves weight and complexity. And the canard wings increase range.
Skyfly has only been around since 2019 and is based in London, England. But it has been aggressively developing its Axe personal aircraft from the beginning. It has validated the design of the Axe with a scale prototype. Skyfly expects that customers will use it for daily commutes.
Why does the Axe airplane have dual wings?
So Skyfly has engineered a high degree of redundancy into each plane. And the dual wings allow landing of the Axe by gliding instead of hitting the pavement with the engines still controlling the plane. Skyfly says this arrangement, “even enables an energy-saving, standard fixed-wing aircraft take-off and landing where a conventional runway is available.”
But in any airplane, especially an electric-powered one, redundancy is critical. The Axe uses a Veronte 4X flight control system made by Embention. These Veronte flight controls incorporate quadruple redundancy to eliminate failure points.
What is the range of the Axe personal airplane?
Another safety feature is the hybrid generator system. This charges the batteries in flight. At 50kW of continuous power, this increases the range by two hours. The average range is 100 to 200 miles, at a 100 mph cruise speed. These figures include the eight 35 kW power sources, 380 lbs payload, and two passengers on board. So the maximum takeoff weight is 1,323 lbs. A carbon fiber superstructure adds both strength while trimming weight.
The eight motors and four propellers control hover and transition modes. In case of a power failure, the Axe can glide to a landing. The control system stabilizes the Axe in both hover mode and during transitions. But there’s more.
How much will the Axe cost?
The Axe also features a ballistic parachute system in case of an emergency. It is launched by a rocket. allowing the Axe to safely land. “With the Axe, you can fly from your garden to your friend’s house, avoiding traffic jams and cutting journey times to a quarter compared to using a car – as well as enjoying stunning views along the way,” says Skyfly CEO Michael Thompson. So it is like a flying car in reality.
Skyfly claims that if you can fly a small drone, you can learn to fly the Axe with one hour of instruction. If this has enticed you, Skyfly is taking pre-orders. Stated prices start at $180,000. Production is expected to begin in 2024.