24-Jan-2024 Source: Skyfly
Skyfly will work with electric aircraft charging company AeroVolt to conduct the UK’s first airfield-to-airfield eVTOL flight in 2024, exclusively using AeroVolt’s operational public charging network.
The Axe eVTOL boasts an impressive range of 100 miles in a fully electric configuration or 300 miles in a hybrid configuration – far more than most other private eVTOLs, which are generally single-seat aircraft with a range of little more than 20 miles.
However, AeroVolt’s public charging network further increases the flexibility of the Axe by enabling fast, hassle-free charging at various major General Aviation airfields such as Brighton City, Lydd, Dunkeswell, Bournemouth, Dunkeswell, Solent Airport and Sandown.
“We are delighted to partner with Aerovolt, who have developed by far the most advanced aircraft charging network in Europe, if not globally. It shows the UK’s appetite for low cost, low emission and low noise flying. We cannot wait to demonstrate this capability on a real flight route which will hopefully prove to the non-believers that electric aviation is the future of mobility. Skyfly wants to make the United Kingdom a leader in aviation again.”
– Michael Thompson, CEO, Skyfly
AeroVolt began rolling out its first tranche of charging stations at airfields across England in August 2023. In total, agreements have been signed for the installation of 60 charging stations around the UK.
Skyfly and AeroVolt will conduct test flights as part of the feasibility demonstrations for electric aircraft. The tests will also confirm the compatibility of the Axe with AeroVolt’s charging and monitoring software.
“Aerovolt’s chargers are especially relevant and useful for training organizations. The combined technology of Aerovolt and the Axe eVTOL by Skyfly will create a method of truly sustainable, quiet and cost-effective flight training – particularly circuit training, which can be focussed on a single airport with permanent charging infrastructure. With its low operating costs, minimal maintenance requirements and its ability to fly either like a fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter, the Axe eVTOL is an economical training platform for various aircraft types, even able to perform glide landings with all its engines shut down, which other eVTOLs cannot replicate. The Axe by Skyfly is highly likely to prove popular in this role as there are no competitors in the two seat, side by side eVTOL training aircraft market.”
– Jaap Rademaker, CCO Skyfly
AeroVolt currently offers access to their charging stations via subscription service, ‘Squadron’. Members of Squadron are also entitled to hire AeroVolt’s Pipistrel Velis Electro fixed-wing electric aircraft. Members can book rental aircraft and charging sessions at their destination, or can use the chargers for their own private aircraft.
Squadron Members receive an ID card that can be used to activate the company’s chargers and commence the charging process. Updates are provided via text while charging is underway. Once the charge is complete, AeroVolt produces an invoice which can be paid later on the company’s website, enabling pilots to charge an aircraft even at remote airfields when poor internet connectivity makes an on-the-spot payment impossible.
Additionally, the AeroVolt charging network will soon be accessible through Octopus Electroverse, a charging app from leading energy supplier Octopus Energy which is already well-established for electric cars.
Aerovolt has already started work on ATIS and NOTAM integration for its charging network.
AeroVolt’s first batch of chargers are rated to 22kW, and installation of larger 44kW chargers will begin in 2024. 120kW are also planned for the near future. Multiple aircraft – and, in some cases, electric cars – can use any one charging station simultaneously. Using AeroVolt’s chargers, the Axe eVTOL can charge in approximately 3.5 hours.
“AeroVolt is really excited to be working with Skyfly. The Axe is a really forward-thinking design in the emerging eVTOL market. The availability and usability of a charging infrastructure is key for their customers and future development and AeroVolt is ready to offer support however we can. We can’t wait to see the Axe flying later this year.”
–Alan Kingsley-Dobson, COO, AeroVolt
Following this year’s tests, AeroVolt will take delivery of their own Axe eVTOL in 2025. The aircraft will be available for members of Squadron to hire, and will also be used by AeroVolt for customer demonstrations, network development and testing.
What is the Axe eVTOL?
With a fully-electric range of 100 miles, or 300 miles with an optional hybrid generator, and a cruise speed of 100mph, the Axe by Skyfly is a truly revolutionary two-seat eVTOL aircraft available for USD 180,000. It is designed for personal use and is as easy to fly as a consumer camera drone. Thanks to its small footprint and low noise, the Axe can be kept at home and flown directly to a destination, in complete comfort and with aerial views to enjoy, without traffic jams or bumpy roads.
Its unique four-winged design (patent pending), developed by renowned aeronautical engineer Dr William Brooks, enables the Axe not just to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but also to fly, take off and land like a conventional airplane. This globally unique ability to also take off and land on a runway means Skyfly’s Axe is the only personal two-seat eVTOL aircraft that you can fly with any existing airplane pilot’s license. By providing lift, the wings also enable a much larger range compared to “rotors only” eVTOLs, an extra layer of safety due to its good glide performance, and a class-leading 30-50kw energy use in cruise, comparable to a Tesla but not requiring an eco-unfriendly road..
The Axe also offers greatly increased safety compared to a helicopter, thanks to its eight-motor distributed propulsion, each with its own power supply and its glide ability arising from its four wings, which enables power-off landing. Additionally, the Axe is fitted with a ballistic parachute – which a helicopter can never have due to the positioning of its rotors.
Skyfly does not aim to develop an air taxi that shuttles commercial passengers into city centres, nor is it venturing down the onerous commercial certification route, which leads to high development costs. Instead, Skyfly follows existing certification routes for private kit-built aircraft, which greatly reduces costs for the owner and enables the Axe to be sold at a base price of 180,000 USD.
Unlike commercial air taxis, which require as-yet-unbuilt “vertiport” infrastructure, the Axe eVTOL can take off and land in a garden or any agricultural land where the landowner has given permission, without needing modifications or expensive infrastructure. This use is legal and well established, with many light aircraft owners operating in this way worldwide from private “farm strips”.
The Axe is not just an idea or concept, but a fully designed aircraft. Extensive analysis and prototype testing has been carried out and manufacturing is being readied for series production. Our two teams of aircraft engineers have developed the Axe as a versatile personal aircraft with strict focus on low weight and aerodynamic efficiency and performance. Aside from generating lift from its wings, the Axe also differs from other eVTOL designs in that it uses existing technology from proven and certified suppliers to provide key components, including the propulsion system, battery system and flight control system. Furthermore, unlike other winged eVTOLs, it has no rotating motor or wing elements, but instead has fixed angle rotors, saving on weight, cost, complexity and maintenance. For more information about how the Axe stands out from other eVTOLs, watch our full explainer video.
Skyfly’s Chief engineer, Dr William Brooks, has designed the Axe with efficiency at its core, with the four wings giving it the highest energy efficiency in comparison to other two-seat eVTOL aircraft. Compared to many other eVTOL designs, which have no or inadequate wings, the Axe’s wings generate useful lift in forward flight, improving efficiency, range and safety, while also giving it the ability to make conventional wing-borne take-offs and landings if required, saving yet more energy.
Skyfly sees the Axe as a direct competitor to currently-available two seat airplanes or helicopters – one that is much easier to fly, safer, quieter and more affordable to buy, operate and maintain. In addition, whichever bigger airtaxi eVTOL wins the race – these will require pilots, and the two seat, side by side Axe eVTOL is the ideal training vehicle – as the only eVTOL worldwide able to train pilots in fixed wing takeoffs and landings, and emergency glide landings, as well as vertical takeoffs and landings.
Following two years of development, CFD and CAD designing, followed by prototype flight testing, the Axe was officially launched in the summer of 2022. In the months since then, the Axe eVTOL by Skyfly has secured dozens of orders and has attracted the attention of air mobility specialist investors. Their backing allows Skyfly to push forward with its development schedule. The strong and lightweight composite fuselage tooling for series production has meanwhile been manufactured and delivered, and with that, Skyfly is now building its first aircraft, with manned test flights due to begin in Q1 2024. Customer deliveries will follow at the end of 2024, when UK certification is expected.