First Flight For Two-Seat Electric Rotorcraft

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The two-seat e-volo Volocopter rotorcraft flew for the first time, on Sunday, inside an arena in Karlsruhe, Germany, the company announced Wednesday morning. The aircraft flew multiple times, with several flights almost reaching the 70-foot-high ceiling of the arena. The takeoffs and landings were smooth, the company said, and flight was vibration-free. Eighteen small, quiet electric motors independently powered the rotors. The company said the Volocopter is easy to fly, the design is highly redundant, and the distributed energy supply is virtually fail-proof. "Nearly all problems of normal helicopters are thereby solved," according to the news release. No pilot was on board for the flight; the aircraft was flown remotely.

E-volo managing director Stephan Wolf said that due to the complex structure of the rotorcraft and its lightweight carbon structure, it was not possible to accurately simulate how the first flight would go, and if it would be vibration-free. "The result of the first flight created a euphoria among the entire project team," he said. "Not even the HD video cameras secured to the exterior carbon ring of the rotor plane captured the least vibrations." Development so far has been covered mainly by research grants, but the company now is taking on a new partner -- Ascending Technologies, a UAV manufacturer -- and seeking crowdfunding through the Seedmatch website. The company says it plans to start deliveries of the aircraft in 2016.