The New York-based operation isn’t working on an air taxi concept like so many eVTOL startups; it’s working on an air minibus. The company hopes to produce a large zero-emission aircraft that will be able to carry up to 40 passengers while zipping through the air.
With the exception of Illium’s latest concept, which can fit seven, most of the eVTOL prototypes we’ve seen over the last few years have only had room for two to three passengers. Kelekona’s concept, which is basically a mass transit vehicle, can carry out about 10,000 pounds of cargo capacity. In the very nascent stage of the eVTOL era, those numbers are unheard of.
Size isn’t the only thing Kelekona has got going for it, either. The air minibus will be pretty zippy, apparently. Kelekona’s website promises that its aircraft will be able to make the 330-mile flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco in an hour. That’s about as much time as it would take to fly between California’s two major cities, except without the hassle of having to go to an airport.
So how will the company’s battery-powered airbus be able to accomplish all this? That remains to be seen, as the only thing we really know about the craft is that its blimp-shaped body will be made of a 3-D-printed composite and that it will be powered eight fail-safe vectoring fans and a swappable battery to minimize turnaround time between flights. A video posted by the company to YouTube shows the fans lifting the craft off the ground, rotating to propel it forward, then rotating to their original position as it lands.
While Kelekona says it’s focused on mass transit for now, the company foresees other uses for its eVTOL, including as a military transport and an air ambulance. No timeline for production of the flying minibus has been announced as of yet, but the concept certainly something different and worth keeping an eye on. Stay tuned.