Good Idea? Build Jetson One Yourself and Fly It Without a License
Jetson Aero is a new startup that has a different type of personal aircraft arrangement. Its Jetson One is an electric VTOL kit. It also won’t require a pilot license once you’ve cludged it all together. In concept, this all sounds great. But in reality, is it a good idea to be in the air with what could be millions of other airplanes? And without the basic background a license brings?
“We intend to make everyone a pilot”
Swedish startup Jetson’s slogan is “We intend to make everyone a pilot.” The CDC says that each year more than 1.35 million people are killed in auto accidents around the world. At this early stage of development, we can’t know if personal VTOLs will become as prolific as cars. But knowing those worldwide death numbers, we can’t help wondering if Jetson’s idea isn’t more than a little scary.
Jetson itself says there are currently more than 170 personal aircraft companies. Only two are taking orders right now, while there are a number of them building very similar VTOLs to Jetson. Since all companies live by supply and demand constraints, it looks like VTOLs carry a lot of demand.
The Jetson One gets classified as an “ultralight”
So, what about the One? It is considered an ultralight eVTOL. Ultralights can’t weigh more than 254 lbs, can’t have a gas tank greater than five gallons, and can’t fly faster than 53 knots. That’s about 63 mph. You get it with about 50-percent assembled-then you put together the rest.
Also, it must be a single-seat craft. The One fulfills those requirements handly. And most tow trailers can handle hauling it out to a designated launch area.
Power comes from four rotors with a combined 118 hp. A lithium-ion battery gives the One a short 20 minutes of travel time. That’s based on a hypothetical 187-pound pilot flying the One. But any potential pilot needs to weigh under 210 lbs. Otherwise, Jetson suggests you call Uber.
The One can operate with only three rotors working
From a safety aspect, the One surrounds you in aluminum tubing. With three layers of redundancy for its computer system, the One can continue flying should one of the rotors poop out. Its hover feature is hands-free, and a ballistic parachute is included in case everything goes south.
At only $92,000, the One seems like a bargain. Others must have felt the same as the first year’s worth of production is now sold out. Those should be arriving around this time next year. Jetson is currently taking orders for its 2023 run of One VTOLs.
We know it must be a bit hard to establish any training without knowing the rules. And right now the FAA has not issued a framework for what a personal aircraft landscape might look like. But we think that extensive training should just be a part of the deal. Otherwise, the first collision of personal aircraft will be the beginning of the end of the personal aircraft market.