XTI, Bye Join Forces On VTOL Project
XTI Aircraft Company, which has been working since 2012 to develop a ducted-fan VTOL design, said on Monday they will work with Bye Aerospace to develop a hybrid-electric prototype of their TriFan aircraft. The new propulsion system will “significantly reduce” the weight and cost of producing the aircraft, according to TriFan CEO Robert LaBelle. Because of those savings, LaBelle said, “our first prototype will be a full-size TriFan 600 instead of the 65-percent sub-scale version” that was previously planned. The TriFan aircraft will have seats for six, the companies said, and will cruise at 260 knots for 1,042 nautical miles. Both companies are based at Centennial Airport, in Colorado. They did not announce a timeline for the project.
Using three ducted fans, the TriFan will land and take off vertically, then the two wing-mounted fans will rotate forward to transition to horizontal flight, XTI said. The aircraft will be capable of climbing to 35,000 feet in 10 minutes, according to XTI. The company had previously planned to use an HTS900 engine from Honeywell International to power the aircraft. LaBelle was named CEO of XTI last month, to fill the post of former CEO Jeff Pino, who was killed about a year ago when his World War II-era P-51D airplane crashed near Phoenix, Arizona. XTI board member Charlie Johnson served as interim CEO and now will return to his board member position. Johnson also has worked as president and COO at Aero Electric Aircraft Corp., which is part of Bye Aerospace. It’s not possible under current FAA rules to certify electric-powered aircraft, but new rules set to take effect in August are expected to allow a pathway to certification.