Canadian aerospace engineering company Horizon Aircraft has announced that the 50% scale prototype of its Cavorite X5 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is complete. The Cavorite X5 will be a small hybrid-electric aircraft, aimed primarily at the emerging urban air mobility (UAM) market.
“With a 22 foot [6.7 m] wingspan, 15 feet [4.57 m] in length and capable of speeds in excess of 250 km/h, this 50% scale prototype is an impressive aircraft,” said Horizon Aircraft CEO. brandon robinson. “Furthermore, it will provide valuable information that will help reduce technical risk as we move forward with the detailed design of our full-scale aircraft.”
Unlike more radical electric-powered UAM VTOL designs pursued by other developers, the Cavorite uses fixed wings to generate lift for most of its flight time. The use of wings greatly reduces drag and it will perform 98% of its flights operating like a conventional aircraft. According to the company, this would make it safer and should make it easier to certify than the more radical, wingless alternative designs.
Not that the Cavorite design uses conventional fenders. The aircraft has an innovative configuration of lifting fans in the wings, which the company has patented. It is these lift fans, plus others in the nose canards (miniature wings at the front of the aircraft), that give it the ability to land and take off vertically.
The 50% scale prototype will now undergo “rigorous” testing. These tests will have a strong security focus. Soon, testing will begin on the “transition” phase of flight (i.e. going from vertical takeoff to conventional forward flight, and the reverse process for landing). This will be followed by high-speed flight testing.
The full-size Cavorite X5 will be able to carry one pilot and four passengers. Powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system, it will have a length of 11.6m, a wingspan of 15.3m and a height of 2.8m. It will have a maximum gross weight of 1,633 kg, a useful payload of 363 kg in VTOL operation and 635 kg in conventional takeoff. The maximum cruising speed will be 450 km/h and the maximum range (including fuel reserve) 500 km.