Lift Aircraft's Hexa
As part of FAA's Powered Ultralight rules, Lift Aircraft is developing the Hexa electric multicopter, primarily for leisure use. These rules limit the aircraft's empty weight to 254 pounds. The Hexa weighs 423 pounds at takeoff. Powered ultralights can operate only during daylight in Class G uncontrolled airspace and do not require a pilot's license. Each electric motor drives a carbon fiber propeller and is powered by a battery pack.Each electric motor drives a carbon fiber propeller and is powered by a battery pack.
With Hexa, customers can learn how to fly the aircraft in less than an hour, according to founder and CEO Matt Chasen, since the aircraft will operate partly autonomously and with pre-set limits, such as not straying into controlled airspace. In addition to leisure flying, Lift intends to launch a new version of the Hexa by the end of the 2020s that will be able to support short personal transportation flights of up to around 15 miles.
As of December 2019, Lift Aircraft was preparing to conduct a limited number of customer flight demonstrations in Austin, Texas, where the prototype has been flying since early 2019. To allow for more flight tests, plans for a 25-city U.S. demonstration tour were pushed back to the first quarter of 2020. The tour was then further delayed by Covid restrictions.
As Chasen reported in his year-end blog in December 2020, Lift had completed "hundreds" of test flights. As part of the redesign, they also added features such as folding the airframe for easy storage and redesigning the landing gear and floats.
During the Vertical Flight Society's Forum 77 event in early May 2021, Chasen said that his company is close to appointing a manufacturing partner, likely an existing tier one aerospace supplier, to ramp up production. In June 2021, Lift Aircraft announced its manufacturing partner will be Texas-based composites specialist Qarbon Aeropscae.
A waiting list of reservations for the Hexa from 15,000 prospective customers was reported by Lift at the end of 2020. The Texas-based company is currently producing about one vehicle every month, and it plans to double that rate by the end of 2021.
Several research and development contracts have been awarded by the U.S. Air Force's Agility Prime program, as well as a partnership with the Center for Autonomous Air Mobility at the University of Texas. The Hexa will be displayed at the Urban Air Mobility Expo in South Korea in November 2020.