Blackfly Personal Evtol Orders Will Be Taken Late This Year, Opener Says
A U.S. start-up behind BlackFly's personal eVTOL aircraft says it's on track to start taking orders this year, but it's not making any promises or setting a firm deadline.
Ken Klarkin, CEO of Opener, said last week during the Vertical Flight Society's eVTOL Symposium in Mesa, Arizona, that the company is feeling good about 2023. It's always just a few test reports away from slipping three or six months from a large or complex engineering program, anyone in charge knows. If there is hardware involved, it may take longer, but the majority of risk has been eliminated."
As SkyKar, Opener was founded in 2008 and claims to be the first company to develop a fully electric, fixed-wing VTOL aircraft for personal use. Marcus Leng, the company's founder and chief engineer, conducted the first crewed test flight of the BlackFly prototype in October 2011. The first flight of the prototype took place in Palo Alto, California, after Leng relocated the company from Canada.
Several public flight demonstrations have been conducted since Opener unveiled its BlackFly preproduction version in 2018. During the July 2022 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the BlackFly did four crewed flight demonstrations.
Following the aircraft's public debut at AirVenture in 2021, Opener said it was close to accepting the first orders from customers, but has yet to do so. Currently, the company is focused on completing validation testing, and it has not yet determined exactly when it will begin taking orders, though it hopes to do so some time in 2023.
The single-seat, fly-by-wire BlackFly will be offered under Part 103 rules for ultralight aircraft, so no FAA type certification will be required, and no pilot license is required. It will, however, be necessary to possess an ultralight pilot's license in order to operate the aircraft in Canada. According to FAA regulations, the aircraft may only be flown during daylight in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions, and it cannot fly over congested areas or controlled airspace.
A BlackFly can carry 230 pounds (104 kilograms) as its maximum payload and can fit an occupant under its bubble canopy if they're under 78 inches (198 centimeters) tall. Each of the aircraft's four propellers with electric motors is mounted on each of its four 13.6-foot cantilevered tandem wings.
According to Karklin, the BlackFly will likely have a shorter range of about 20 miles (32 kilometers) on a single charge rather than the 30 miles Opener has previously claimed. Nevertheless, "there are a lot of very generous safety factors applied to battery reserves," Klarkin said. Battery technology on the BlackFly is five or six years old, and the aircraft's range may increase as newer batteries with higher energy densities become available.
Powered by a 240-volt quick charger, the BlackFly can be fully recharged in about 20 to 30 minutes at a top speed of 55 knots. It would take significantly longer if you used a 120-volt home charger.
The BlackFly has been used in more than 5,000 flight tests covering more than 36,000 miles so far. In terms of dynamic amphibious operation, Klarkin said there are still "a few corner cases to be explored." “We do not want it to be a water toy, but we do want it to be robust in the water.”
Klarkin added that they continue to work on high altitudes and hot temperatures as well. We still need to accumulate some flight hours down there. In a few months, you will know why there will be some UFO sightings outside of Mexico City.