US electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL) company, Overair, has received a $145 million investment from South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, putting its all-electric experimental prototype on track to fly in the second half of 2023.

The funding will help ensure the aircraft, named Butterfly, will take to the skies as planned next year, Overair said. The investment will also provide electric motors and battery packs for Overair’s prototypes, as the two companies expand their research and development cooperation.

Sustainable aerial ridesharing

“This is a tremendous milestone for our growing team, and we’re extremely well positioned to deliver sustainable aerial ridesharing to the world through the development of Butterfly,” said Ben Tigner, Co-Founder and CEO of Overair.

“We’re exactly where we want to be, building a superior aircraft company with class leading mobility technology around an unrivalled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year. We’ve proven Butterfly’s propulsion system, so we’ll now begin validating Butterfly’s ability to operate safely in real-world weather conditions, carry significant payloads, and fly incredibly quietly.”

Optimum Speed Propulsion

Butterfly is an all-electric aircraft with six seats designed to take off and land vertically. The aircraft’s advanced propulsion system is derived from decades of military VTOL programmes led by Abe Karem, Overair’s Co-founder and Principal Designer.

Butterfly’s Optimum Speed Propulsion (OSP) uses four large propellers, which spin slowly when hovering and even more slowly when cruising, and draw only a fraction of the available motor power, giving Butterfly extra payload capacity and power margins to operate safely in challenging environmental conditions, the company says.

‘Game changer’

“Hanwha’s basic principles for new business development is to focus on ‘Disruptive Innovation’ that can uproot and shift the market and technology trends based on its core capabilities. In alignment with its core capabilities as well as its main businesses, Hanwha is selecting ‘game changer’ businesses that it can really excel in the future, and eVTOL vehicle is one of the ‘game changers’,” said Sungchul Eoh, CEO of Hanwha Systems.

As the company continues to work toward FAA certification, Overair is also working with NASA and Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles to develop urban air mobility routing and infrastructure.

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