Switzerland’s UASystems plans to make the first flight of its hybrid/electric eZELOS rotorcraft in March or April 2023. The rotorcraft has been designed for air taxi, air ambulance, air cargo and defence roles – for both urban air mobility and regional air mobility applications – and features a coaxial rotor system and a three-mode propulsion (full electric, hybrid, double ICE with direct-drive gyro auto rotation).
According to the company’s business plan:
“The eZELOS is intended to be operated from anywhere, independent of the ground facilities, using twin-hybrid propulsion system in combination with coaxial rotor lift technology. It can transport 1,200 pounds (550 kilograms) of cargo or carry two passengers and one pilot at a cruise speed of 150 knots (280 km/h) up to 300 miles (500 km), depending on the configuration. With these characteristics eZELOS is targeting both urban air mobility and regional air mobility.
“ …The coaxial configuration results in reducing the aircraft size by 35-40% as compared with the single rotor case. This is mainly due to the reduction in the rotor’s diameter thanks to greater natural finesse in hover and no power loss to tail rotor (not used). The aircraft size is further reduced because there is no need for a long tail boom on which to mount the tail rotor – outside the main rotor’s blade-swept area. The contra-rotation of coaxial rotors leads to significant reduction in power, since the airflow from the rotors exhibits much less lossy rotation (swirl).”
The prototype is under construction and three more aircraft are planned to be added in 2023, one dedicated for static stress tests and the others intended to join the flight test campaign. The company’s strategic target is to obtain a type certificate for eZELOS by 2026, the gradually ramp to production levels of 150 aircraft a year.
The company reports it has received letter of intent to purchase from several hundred customers. An industrial consortium from Japan alone wants over 500 units and a fully functional air taxi and air ambulance will be on display at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Japan. Other customers are based in Turkey and Kazakhstan.
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