Written by Simona Shemer, NoCamels
It’s been a long and tiring workday. Finally, it’s 5 pm and you want nothing more than to throw open the door, beat all possibility of traffic, and fly home.
In just a few years, you should be able to do that.
Flying cars are the future and eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles) are the next big thing in personal mobility, Rani Plaut, CEO, and co-founder for Israeli startup AIR tells NoCamels.
“We believe that enabling the usage of air mobility is a key factor in the massive transformation in mobility the world is going through right now,” says Plaut.
Looking to secure certification for its inaugural all-electric two-seater eVTOL vehicle, AIR ONE, Plaut’s team at AIR has been working with the US Federation Aviation Authority (FAA) for two years. The company expects certification for the 970kg (2,138 lb) eVTOL by the end of 2023.
In the meantime, the Pardes Hana-based firm has just established an AIR Brand Ambassador (ABA) program to provide strategic partners around the world with the ability to share the freedom of personal flight with their communities.
“AIR is embarking on a journey to deploy a large number of vehicles globally as demand grows substantially since our debut. On that end, we have initiated ABA, the AIR Brand Ambassador program for promoting the use and ownership of personal eVTOLs in various geographic areas,” Plaut explains.
The program will grant manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and other relevant players in the aerospace and automotive industries worldwide the opportunity to introduce their communities to the idea of personal, green flight transportation––a step AIR executives believe is crucial in building public acceptance of eVTOLs.
This week, the Israeli company also announced its partnership with Australian electric aircraft distributor, FlyOnE, to supply AIR’s first eVTOL aviation fleet to Australian consumers.
FlyOnE will serve as AIR’s local service and maintenance partner and will facilitate the delivery of 25 AIR ONE vehicles worth $150,000 apiece to customers in 2025. With advanced air mobility (AAM) regulations already in motion in Australia, FlyOnE will also be overseeing and tracking AIR’s entry into the Australian market, where Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) regulation is already in motion. The scope of the collaboration between the two companies is estimated at close to $4 million, Plaut says.
In addition, AIR will also assist in maintaining tools and training pilots. Currently, individuals who wish to fly the AIR ONE must receive a basic pilot’s license, which can be obtained in as little as 15 flying hours.
“Fly OnE is our first ABA partner with a complete alignment of vision and mission in the broad sense,” Plaut says.
Plaut tells NoCamels the team is “thrilled to expand our reach to Australia,” which he calls a “trailblazing market with very high growth potential,” and” with the help of such a forward-thinking partner as FlyOnE.”
“As we continue to discuss future potential brand ambassadorships around the world, we believe FlyOnE’s dedication to electric aviation adoption on all levels will significantly impact public acceptance of personal eVTOLs and help the industry take flight.”
“At FlyOnE, we believe that AIR’s vehicle and mission align perfectly with our own, which is why we’re excited to facilitate their entry into the Australian market and serve as an AIR Brand Ambassador,” said Korum Ellis, the Australian company’s CEO and founder. “We are committed to being at the forefront of the electric aviation industry in Australia, and the personal eVTOL adoption process will play a key role in its growth over the next few years.”
AIR has also begun accepting preorders for its AIR ONE on its website. The first 200 units will be unique and owners will be able to receive special terms and privileges, AIR said. Pre-ordered units can be secured with $1,000 which will also go towards the full $150,000 price of a vehicle. Deliveries will start in 2024.
Redefining personal mobility
Founded by Chen Rosen and later joined by Plaut and Netanel Goldberg, AIR began engineering prototypes in 2017 and started testing system functionalities in 2019. The company’s current flagship model is designed to seat up to two passengers and runs solely on electricity. It is capable of traveling 110 miles (177 km) on a single charge at speeds as high as 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour). AIR ONE prioritizes everyday practicality for consumers with collapsible wings for easy parking and its ability to take off from or land on any flat surface.
At the heart of AIR ONE is the company’s ‘fly by intent’ software, which manages complex functions and navigation, so that usage isn’t restricted to highly skilled pilots and trained professionals. Additional safety features include an AI-enabled monitoring system that does frequent inspections of the vehicle and eliminates checklists for riders to ensure paramount safety, even for riders with minimal training.
Fly by intent differs from fly by wire in that the latter is an electronic interface that controls an aircraft. “Fly by intent allows for simpler flight control systems. In a way, it behaves like an organism,” says Plaut. “If you push the stick left, it’s not just that the aircraft tilts left, it sort of senses the direction of travel you desire – it’s like a biologically-inspired element.” The other aspect of the system is that there is a short feedback loop and that after only a few minutes of flying even a relatively inexperienced pilot can feel as though they are in complete control.
Based on technology and manufacturing techniques from the automotive and aerospace industries, AIR ONE is designed from inception to be a fun, safe and practical vehicle that adheres to aerospace standards and regulations. To this end, AIR is currently working with the FAA to obtain G1 certification.
“The future of mobility is in the sky, but to get there we need to build consumer confidence in eVTOLs as a legitimate mode of everyday transport and develop vehicles on a mass-scale to bring that vision to life,” Plaut says, “AIR ONE is our hat in the ring, simultaneously showing consumers the first in a line of diversified, playful models for personal flight and demonstrating cutting-edge technology that will enable high-volume production and scalability.”