We’ve talked about several prototype or concept electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft over the months. Typically these aircraft haul two people and are designed for mobility in an urban environment. A new startup based in New York called Kelekona has unveiled a new concept eVTOL aircraft that is essentially a flying bus.
The aircraft concept the company envisions would be able to haul 40 passengers and a pilot on each flight. If used to carry cargo, it would be able to loft about 10,000 pounds. Kelekona expects that its concept would also be able to travel long distances of around 330 miles, at speeds that could take passengers between LA and San Francisco in an hour.
The aircraft design uses four banks of two very large ducted fans that have variable pitch blades. Those ducted fans would push the vehicle off the ground during VTOL operations. The fan banks would tilt forward to push the aircraft into forward flight.
One of the most exciting aspects of the design is instead of having wings, the aircraft would have a lifting body providing the lift it needs during forward flight. The design is chunky with a very flat and wide body featuring a modest teardrop shape from the side. The front of the aircraft is rounded with a tapered rear and a flat bottom. The top of the aircraft is domed to create a lifting surface making the fuselage the wing.
The aircraft looks like a blimp. A massive electric aircraft such as this would need significantly large battery packs. Rather than waiting between flights for the batteries to recharge, the company envisions swappable battery packs to allow the aircraft to be ready to fly again very quickly. It’s possible that the concept aircraft would operate from within a city using something about four times as large as a helicopter pad.