MOBI-ONE by Airspace Experience Technologies: The Future of Air Travel
By December 2018, startup Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX) reported that it had flown five sub-scale concept vehicles, including one-third and one-fifth scale models of its MOBi-One tiltwing aircraft. In September 2019, the company said that it intends to begin hover flight demonstrations with a full-scale model in March 2020, followed by all-modes flight trials starting in March 2021.
A fully defined prototype is expected to be ready by March 2022, and demonstration flights are expected to begin by that date. As a result of an announcement in February 2020 regarding a partnership with Spirit AeroSystems (see below), this timeline appears to have been pushed back.
MOBi-One is expected to be operational for cargo applications by 2023 and for passenger operations by 2024. The company's website suggests it will be directly involved in operations, with plans for an app to book flights.
A scale model of the company's MOBi-One tilt-wing aircraft was unveiled by the company in January 2018 and five sub-scale concept vehicles had been flown by December 2018. A full-scale MOBi-One prototype has been on the company's agenda since the start of 2019. The Detroit-based company launched parallel funding rounds in May 2019 under U.S. law. ASX raised $8 million from SeedInvest in partnership with the Securities and Exchange Commission's CF and D regulations. It had raised just over $761,000 prior to the latest funding round.
To evaluate market opportunities for using eVTOL aircraft for cargo-carrying, ASX signed a memorandum of understanding with TPS Logistics in June 2019.
An agreement has been signed by ASX and Spirit AeroSystems to jointly develop the MOBiOne on February 17, 2020. The announcement did not provide any further details on the timeline for the program. Spirit will be involved in design and manufacturing, as well as providing experience in FAA type certification. ASX intends to launch its Series A funding round in March 2020. In order to complete the preliminary design phase of the program, the company was hoping to raise $6 million before the end of 2019. In a conversation with FutureFlight, ASX co-founder Anita Sengupta told us the company is currently building a full-scale testbed vehicle with the aim of flying it within 12 months. The company is also developing an engineering design version of the Mobi-One that will be closer to the production model. According to ASX, cargo flights will begin in 2023 and passenger flights will begin in 2024 once the aircraft is certified.
CEO Jon Rimanelli will provide a program update to the Vertical Flight Society on January 27, 2021. In 2020, he said, the planned aircraft was redesigned so that it will only take off and land vertically, and only use the wing during cruise. Now referred to as Sigma Six, the aircraft has six rotors instead of stacked co-rotating propellers and a shorter wing (38 feet). Among the reasons for the change were a need to reduce aircraft costs as well as noise management difficulties.
To achieve a flight demonstration during the third quarter of 2021, ASX was aiming to finalize the performance of the new propulsion and thermal management system by the end of the third quarter.