A UK start-up unveiled its plans to develop the world’s first business aircraft with vertical take-off and landing at the Singapore Airshow. The 10-seat Starling Jet will be a three-engine, hybrid-electric craft with a range of up to 1,300 nautical miles (2,400km).
According to the company, the plane will have fly by wire and full autonomous capability, meaning that fewer than 20 hours of training would be enough to fly the Starling Jet, which could take off and land from an area as small as a helipad.
A team at Samad Aerospace, at Cranfield, England, has been working on the plane for six years, led by British entrepreneur Seyed Mohseni.
Mohseni only had a model to show at the event (see pic) but claims the company will fly a full-scale, technical demonstrator by March 2018 and have a certified aircraft by 2024.
There are some hurdles, though, between now and then, such as needing to raise about $56 million to complete the R&D, plus $70 million to complete the project. Apparently the company has been promised investment from a UK government seeding fund for technology.
Mohseni said the company is talking to two US manufacturers as well as Rolls-Royce about engines: one will be mounted on each side of the upper fuselage of blended-wing, with a third between a V-tail. He also said the company is keen to talk to potential technology partners in Asia.
The Starling Jet is designed to use electric fan engines, with the high power to weight ratio of gas turbine engines. The design includes power electronics and battery technology that can operate at a very low temperature and extreme environment of 30,000 feet altitude. The company plans to exploit developments in battery and power electronics, and low-cost gas turbine engines for charging the batteries at cruise.