Otto Aviation Officially Introduces Celera 500L (Corrected)


Otto Aviation officially unveiled its Celera 500L clean-sheet passenger aircraft on Wednesday, stating that its full-scale prototype has already completed 31 successful test flights. According to the company, the Celera will offer an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to a similar business aircraft. In addition to passenger travel, Otto is marketing the aircraft for cargo and military applications.

“Our goal was to create a private aircraft that would allow for direct flights between any city pair in the U.S. at speeds and cost comparable to commercial air travel,” said Otto Aviation chairman and chief scientist William Otto Sr. “Since the results from our prototype test flights have been so promising, we’re ready to bring the Celera 500L to market.”

As previously reported by AVweb, the Celera 500L prototype was spotted undergoing taxi testing in June 2019 after over a decade of quiet development. The six-passenger aircraft is expected to have a top cruise speed of 460 MPH, 4,500-NM range, fuel economy of 18 to 25 miles per gallon and glide ratio of 22:1. The all-composite Celera is powered by the RED A03 engine, which is certified to operate on Jet A1 and biodiesel. Otto projects that the model’s hourly operating costs will come in at around $328.

Video: Otto Aviation
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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. I think this is pretty cool, if performance claims are true. 460 MPH seems a bit of a stretch on 500 HP. They should also complete the look and put a full B29 type front end on it with a passenger seat in the nose. That would be awesome.

  2. After 31 test flights, they’re “ready to bring the Celera 500L to market?”
    Unless it’s going to be a homebuilt, the FAA may have something to say about that.

    The dead-flat takeoff and landing attitudes are… interesting. Were some frames missing from the video, right after liftoff?

    • Same reason another hour of frames between takeoff and landing are missing. To not bore you and instead bring a nice quick overview of what the airplane looks like in flight, which should be celebrated as a technical win and not be judged sarcastically.

        • A pilot or mechanic who is convinced bolts walking out is a normal thing and not the result of negligent maintenance is not someone you want flying you around or turning a wrench on your airplane.

          Note to self: if you ever come across an A&P named Arthur F do not let him work on your airplane. If you ever come across a pilot named Arthur F don’t ride in his airplane.

          • Screws, rivets, nuts, bits of exhaust clamps. Lots of things vibrate and wear and sometimes drop off a perfectly well running engine. Who’s owned a piston airplane and not found missing small bits under the cowl at annual?

        • Another sarcastic reaction, this time by AF. Do you really think a team of engineers designing this plane for 6 years, in this day and age, overlook those those type of things? Especially in this climate where certification is under scrutiny? I don’t understand these off the cuff reactions when an article is merely reporting aviation news.

          • I totally agree with you Joe. I don’t understand all the “get off my lawn” armchair quarterbacks on this site that love to criticize innovation. If these folks dominated during the early 1900s then we probably never would have automobiles. I can see it right now: “What a waste of money! No one in their right mind would invest in one of these horseless carriages. Where would they fill up their gas tanks? There are grass fields everywhere for horses to graze, but I don’t see any gasoline fields!”

            Good thing social media didn’t exist back then.

        • There has been approximately 1,300 piston engined, pusher prop Lake Amphibian aircraft produced since the late 1950’s, not to mention Republic Seabees, Piaggio amphibians and P180 Avantis. Or how about the Cessna 336-337 series with, not just one. but two – piston engines vibrating away in front of a pusher propeller. Ever hear of the Rutan Vari-EZ or Vari-Viggen?
          I don’t think that stray bits coming off of the powerplants of these aircraft and damaging the propeller throughout millions of flight hours has really been much of an issue.

  3. Brilliant idea, having a laminar flow fuselage. My PA28-180 get about 14 MPG when I fly LOP. 18 – 25 MPG in an airframe twice the size is quite tantalizing. I can imagine in 5 to 10 years seeing airframes like this converted to electric (when Li-S batteries mature). Aviation technology is getting exciting again.

  4. Regardless of the horsepower available, 460MPH is extremely difficult to achieve from a propeller-based propulsion system. The MU-2, which is one of the fastest turbo-props flying, can just touch 360.

  5. I was referring to the interval immediately after liftoff, but before reaching 100 feet AGL. That would be a curious opportunity to “avoid some boredom.”

    For the record, I consider my comments to be legitimate. Believable responses would be appreciated.

    • Maybe they took the number they really think they can achieve and factored in the same ratio all the other piston plane companies do so that they appear professional? “V marketing” has been around since the Wright brothers hasn’t it?

  6. Nice to see they actually built and flew a prototype; a commendable achievement. The 500hp diesel engine will probably be great economically, as the specific fuel consumption is about 0.35 lb/hp/hr, compared to about 0.6 for PT6 engines of about the same power. That’s about a 40% fuel saving.
    But piston engines aren’t as reliable as turbines. How many customers will want to fly in a big piston single like that? Years ago the Orenda company invested a huge amount of money and effort into developing a V-8 engine that could be retrofitted to King Airs. It would reduce the fuel consumption by a good margin. Very few potential buyers were interested, and the program was canceled. Turbines are smoother and have far fewer moving parts.
    And one concern for the pilots is that forward visibility is virtually nil. The windshield does allow the pilot to see what’s above him or her, but not what’s in front. There’s no engine in the nose, so why not design it so the pilot can see where the airplane is headed?
    The configuration is somewhat reminiscent of the Lear Fan 2100, though that was a turboshaft twin with a single propeller. Although the Lear Fan is more aesthetically pleasing to me (certainly subjective), the Celera probably does have a significantly larger cabin and lower fuel consumption.

    • “How many customers will want to fly in a big piston single like that?”

      It’s more of a twin inline 6 – from their web site:

      “Liquid cooled V12, twin 6-cylinder bank, capable of independent operation with mutually independent critical engine sub-systems for each bank.”

      • The independent critical subsystems are helpful in an ignition or fuel injection failure, not so much if it inhales an exhaust valve. The major reliability benefit of turbines isn’t redundancy, it’s the absence of reciprocating parts, which reduces the engine’s proclivity to eat itself in seconds if one of those parts breaks off.

        Another potential issue with general acceptance of this engine is liquid cooling, but I suppose that the recent popularity of the Rotax 91x series probably helps in this regard.

        • If one bank of cylinders “inhales an exhaust valve”, you should still have eleven good cylinders to produce power. No? Besides, it sounds as if the intent of this engine’s architecture is to have one bank of six cylinders get you home even with the total failure of the other six.
          I have had this very thing happen in six cylinder Lycoming TIO540 and Continental IO520 engines. The Continental ran a little rough but got me safely on the ground without a huge amount of drama. In the Lycoming, it was barely noticeable.

  7. Despite the usual snark in AvWeb comments, I think it’s reasonable to be highly skeptical of these numbers. 460 MPH on 500 HP for a plane of this size (or any size, for that matter) would be a giant leap in aircraft performance. Single-seat, race planes at Reno can’t put up numbers like that.

  8. They’re flying it, which puts them head and shoulders above the vast majority of the erstwhile vendors of “disruptive” etc dreamplanes. Whether the actual performance numbers approach those measured at the brochure and website is not a measure of success or failure.

  9. My hat is off to a company that can keep its mouth shut, develop their product without press “leaks”, and turn their vision into a flying airplane.

    Bill Lear did the same thing with the Lear Fan 2100 a few people already have mentioned. The Lear Fan had one of the best drag coefficients ever engineered into a real, flying, passenger carrying airplane. Serial number three flew 970 hours with great reliability matching and exceeding original design estimates/ expectations. It carried 6 plus a crew of two. It could also be flown single pilot. Lear had a grasp of laminar flow, advanced all composite design, and built for 6+ and 4- G’s. Pratt and Whitney optimized the de-rated 850 to 650HP engines for 41,000 ft cruise. And cruise it did. It accomplished this performance in a lightweight air frame pushed with 1300HP. Its wingspan, length, and weight corresponds very closely with Otto’s specifications. And those specs are far lighter than any current flying turbine twin no matter what it is made of. The Otto airplane has very similar specs of size, weight, useful load, empty weight, and external dimensions of the Lear Fan 2100. So, for me, the benchmark for 350kt cruise carrying 6-7 passengers into the upper flight levels burning Jet A is the Lear Fan 2100.

    Consequently, I have questions. One is the turbochargers. Altitude is the nemesis of turbo engineering. There are limits to the size of the turbo and its ability to spin fast enough to meet the demands of the flight levels, and be engineered into an airplane’s confined spaces. I have a fair amount of experience with turbo limitations in diesel aircraft engine applications. The turbocharger needs of a twelve cylinder diesel at 25-65,000 ft would be so enormous I believe that technology does not exist today.

    This engine has been around for a few years, is well engineered, and is essentially two 6 cylinder engines powering a single output shaft. Six cylinders can run independent of the other six cylinders giving it twin engine redundancy should one side or the other fail. That is 250hp a side with full independent FADEC control. But 250hp pushing a 7,000 lb airplane is not going to have much performance except extend the claimed 22:1 glide ratio no matter what altitude the airplane might be at. The Lear Fan 2100 climbed at just under 4,000 feet per minute on two and 1350 feet per minute on one 650hp engine. That single engine performance it could do well into the lower flight levels.

    Inter-cooler demands would be equally enormous with capacities matched with turbo sizing and max RPM limitations to enable sustained flight above 25,000 feet for a gross weight of 7350 pounds at take off. The current intakes do not look even remotely large enough to accommodate the high 40-65,000 altitudes Otto claims this airplane is designed to fly at. Nor does there appear any room for inter-cooler sizes required to cool the intake charge based on current known technology.

    The Lear Fan 2100 program ran out of money largely because of the certification delays by the FAA. Ultimately, one of the biggest objections by the FAA was two engines powering a single, common shaft. As with any new design, there are evolutionary changes installed to mitigate formerly unknown issues that always crop up on a flying airplane. Lear solved those problems by 1985. Airplane three had been flying for over 3 years accumulating 970 reliable hours. Yet the FAA was not satisfied enough with that concept, nor was satisfied an advanced composite air frame stressed to almost into the aerobatic category had the long term durability, including handling bird strikes. It was priced at $1.6 million in the early eighties, yet had over 200 firm orders.

    I am happy that someone took a concept and has a flying prototype. I am wondering if they are handing out these optimistic numbers by also including a lot of un-manned/UAV/Drone applications they have been advertising on their website within the Otto design parameters. However, claiming laminar flow fuselage is the “secret sauce” in a 59% drag reduction allowing 500HP turbo, inter-cooled, 12 cylinder, semi-twin diesel, with a four blade fan to push a 7000lb+ passenger carrying pressurized airplane at over 400 miles per hour at altitudes of 25-65,000 feet is a stretch. The following claim of certification and deliveries beginning in 2023-25 raises many doubts for me as well.

    But I would like to be wrong and have them successfully meet all these design challenges rubbing my comments back into my face in the not too distant future. I am glad they have made 31 flights with their unique looking, Questair Venture stretched-like, composite airplane. When they get 970 hours of flight time, pass the long-forgotten Lear Fan 2100 performance, and can convince the buying public who thought the Beech Starship was a bit too radical looking to be comfortable in making a purchase they have a well proven and safe airplane, that their 500hp semi-twin diesel can wisk them safely into flight levels only known to the SR-71 on a regular basis, I am cautiously pessimistic of their claims of performance and market opportunities at this time.

  10. I have a collection of major aviation magazines dating back to 1963–and a number of even older issues that people have given me–over 8000 magazines. It’s fun to go back and see what these magazines have heralded as “the next big thing”–even skeptical and caustic magazine editors have been fooled by fantastic performance claims.

    Agree that this claimed performance is unobtainable–but certainly wonder who their Publicity Department has working for them? This concept vehicle has been trumpeted all over the internet–mostly on non-aviation sites. Similarly, non-aviation magazines (like Popular Mechanics) have been telling readers that “Flying Cars” are “Just around the corner.”

    Kudos to “the OTHER Jim H.” (above) for putting this in historical and engineering perspective.

  11. Laminar, shlaminar: the Celera 500L is essentially a Zeppelin with wings. The design predates the
    Wright Brothers by three decades, and was patented prior to 1900. Nothing wrong with that, but
    let’s not get carried away (sic), either. There’s nothing novel or revolutionary about reinventing
    the blimp. Let’s just hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as the Hindenburg, in 1937. Also, the
    video is highly misleading, since the “flight” is obviously a simulation, yet there’s a celebration
    at the end, with champagne and streamers. That’s not aviation news–it’s simply propaganda.
    No matter how reliable, durable and economical the plane may prove to be, you need to treat
    it with the same critical detachment as in investigating a tragic accident–and to prevent one.

  12. Laminar, shlaminar: the Celera 500L is essentially a Zeppelin with wings. The design predates the Wright Brothers by three decades, and was patented prior to 1900. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s not get
    carried away (sic), either. There’s nothing novel or revolutionary about reinventing the blimp. Let’s just hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as the Hindenburg, in 1937. Also, the video is highly misleading, since the “flight” is obviously a simulation, yet there’s a celebration at the end, with champagne and streamers. That’s not aviation news–it’s simply propaganda. No matter how reliable, durable and economical the plane may prove to be, you need to treat it with the same critical detachment as you would in investigating and reporting on a tragic accident–and above all, to prevent one.

    • Why do you believe the flight video is a “simulation”? I’ve been skeptical of many obviously simulated flight videos passed off as “real” but I don’t see any telltale signs that the video above is a simulation.

      • It’s a fake.
        Video simulation has come a long way. Think of when you go to the movies, and can’t tell when a scene moves from real to computer-generated. But this one is a little too clean to be real. And as others have pointed out, the flat takeoff and landing aren’t aerodynamically real.
        The spliced-in champagne celebration at the end is there to fool you.

  13. Just finished a tuna fish sandwich while looking at the Avweb published picture of Otto’s Celera 500L My tuna sandwich combined with that side view has clarified Otto’s inspiration for his airplane. Admittedly, tunas are “water-dynamically” pretty clean as fish goes. However, Cessna potentially does have some intellectual rights to the “tuna tank” name describing the tip tanks on later model 310’s prohibiting Otto from using the Tuna 500 branding. Maybe the Flying Fish 500U…U for underwater. Or Flying Fish 500A…for aircraft designation. But then again, there are a lot of Mopar enthusiasts driving E-body Cudas and Barracudas who have also adopted the moniker “Flying Fish”. Especially those Hemi powered “fish”. Oh, the marketing challenges for a 450+ mph “tuna” like airplane.

    • Interesting observation about the tuna Jim. Look into the work of Sir George Caley, the Englishman who discovered the principle of lift in 1804, 99 years before the Wright’s flight. Caley’s inspiration for an aerodynamic wing surface was that of a “great fish”.

  14. A friend was also skeptical, but did send me a link–he found that the engine was already certified in Germany, and the FAA recognizes it.$FILE/E00092EN_Rev_0.pdf

    The 500 hp is only for 5 minutes–it scales back to 460, then to 400. It is also only certified to FL 250. As “the other Jim H. (that’s WITH a Capital H–smile) points out, that’s not much horsepower, and a long way from cruising at FL400–FL 650.

    • In the discussion of power/thrust, HP is simply a measurement of what an engine can produce at an optimum RPM. Torque/thrust is what pushes you back in the seat. A 455HP six cylinder diesel that powers a modern semi generates over 1,000 lb/ft of torque in a power band of barely off idle at 800RPM to 1800RPM. They will spin faster but all you are doing is wasting fuel as the toque curve goes down.

      In our muscle cars of old, a carburated big block with a modified cam and free breathing exhaust could generate 500+ HP and on a good day 400-500 lb/ft torque. Small blocks making 350-450 hp was attainable, but nowhere near the torque. So, you would have to spin the small block a lot higher to get the car to move with the same energy of the big block. With today’s variable timing, FI, excellent breathing heads, you can run high compression on pump gas with many small blocks making old big block hp and torque.

      We did thrust tests on the SMA-305E (230HP, 4 cylinder, air-cooled, FAA certified, direct drive diesel) vs a fresh Lycoming IO-540 making its rated 260HP ( dyno verified). With the certified Hartzell prop designed for the SMA-305E, the diesel made 15% more thrust at all power settings from take off to flight idle at sea level manifold pressure. But as noted earlier, aircraft turbos have a difficult time maintaining sea level manifold pressure much past 15-17,000 ft. They might provide boost to 25,000ft but not sea level boost.

      The maximum turbocharger containment speed for the RED AO3 is 140,000RPM. Max turbo RPM is 135,000RPM. Now you know why a turbo can spin for sometime after engine shut down. Most piston turbos operate in the 100,000-125,000RPM range. Like SMA found out, turbo technology lags behind the full capabilities of the engine. Turbo sizing, balancing, oiling, and cooling is tough at 135,000RPM. Imagine one spinning at 2-3 times that speed, sized like meat platter on Thanksgiving to get an idea what it take to generate enough air, manifold pressure to maintain HP into the flight levels. Then you would have to figure out how to install, plumb, cool, and exhaust all of this super-heated pressure. The turbo, inter-cooler, heat exchangers, radiators, plumbing, are much larger than the engine.

      Modern gear head engine builders commonly build 400-600 CID V8’s generating 1500-3000HP with 800-1,000 lbs/ft torque. But you have to look at what it takes in multiple turbo engineering, sheer size, cooling requirements which normally does not fit into the largest engine bay with the hood on, making for menacing looking induction systems and turbos, waste-gates, etc setting well above any normal hood line or with massive scoops. Not practical for airplanes, especially if you are claiming 450+MPH at 25-65,000 ft.

      Another issue with turbo-diesels is the turbo is making 60% of the HP. Loose the turbo and your 400 continuous hp diesel is only making 160HP with very little torque. Not a effective amount of power when pushing a 6000-7000 lb air-frame. It’s the “hair dryer” that is making most of the torque. Loose that, and your turbo Razzamatazz SUV, diesel 4×4 truck, and this Otto aerial invention is instantly very anemic.

      • It is a very common misconception that “torque/thrust is what pushes you back in your seat”. Torque and thrust are simply measurements of force. Force alone does not motivate vehicles. Case in point: When a car is parked on a steep hill, the emergency brake is applying torque to the wheels, but emergency brakes can’t propel a vehicle. In another example, a person can provide some pretty large torques using long wrenches, but they certainly can’t motivate heavy vehicles very fast by applying this “torque” to their drive train. There is a very good reason why we have units of measurement of “work” (force over distance) and “power” (work over time). Bottom line is that it takes “work” to apply a force while actually moving an object a given distance, and “power” is the measurement of how much “work” is completed in a given amount of time.

        Certainly, the typical way of measuring engine power is to measure the “torque” but the number is completely meaningless without knowing the the engine speed (or the shaft speed where the torque is measured). Simply put, an engine that produces 1000 ft/lbs of torque at 1000 RPM’s is not going to propel an aircraft as fast as an engine that produces 500 ft/lbs of torque at 2700 RPM’s! And thrust is similar in that the amount of thrust produced at 0 velocity does not necessarily translate into the ability to create great velocity. For example, a large helicopter rotor produces thousands of pounds of “thrust”, but if used as a propeller it simply would not produce the high velocities on a fixed wing aircraft as a smaller but similarly powered propeller that produces much less static thrust.

        • “Certainly, the typical way of measuring engine power is to measure the “torque” but the number is completely meaningless without knowing the the engine speed (or the shaft speed where the torque is measured).

          As I previously stated, we had the dyno results of the IO-540 which provides that data exactly at every RPM which is the relationship between shaft speed and engine load as it relates to the crankshaft/output shaft speed resulting in a number called “torque”. Likewise, SMA provided dyno data as well. Lycoming had/has boatloads full of thrust data as that “torque” was applied to certified optimized propeller design which Hartzell provided for both engines. Both Lycoming and Hartzell engineers were surprised by the SMA 305E’s delivery of thrust as compared to the thrust produced by the IO-540 plotted throughout the entire RPM range. That thrust is felt through the acceleration forces we can feel through our seat of our collectives pants. I like things kept simple as it relates to the end user such as aircraft owner/pilots. Tie both engines to a tree, install a scale measuring lbs and the SMA SR-305E produced 15% more “pounds” of pull measured as thrust.

          The direct drive SMA-305E had 10% better static thrust at full throttle which is 2200 RPM vs IO-540 2700RPM. However, you can run the SR-305E all day at 2200RPM which made the prop far more responsive through out the speed range from TO thru cruise, and then down to flight idle upon landing. The average through out the RPM range was 15% more thrust developed at 2200 RPM which is max TO RPM which is also Max continuous power. This Hartzell approved prop is a 3 blade prop. This combo netted the same results compared to the IO-540 with both 2 and 3 blade props.

          The normal TO/Cruise turbo speeds are 135,000RPM with a max containment speed of 146,000RPM. Fuel consumption at TO/Max continuous is approx 8GPH for an average fuel savings of about 40%.

          Diesel engines produce usable, measurable power, at a lower RPM which allows for much better use of a propeller, therefore thrust, prop governor response speed, blade area can be improved over a gas powered engine. Since fixed wing airplanes have to move through the air, that forward movement can be better utilized by the diesel/prop combination. One of the down sides is the diesels power pulses are farther apart which requires in most cases use of a composite prop vs aluminum. The FAA has concerns as to those pulses and harmonics as they relate to air frame structures as well. The RED AO3 claims their semi-twin engine design with a common shaft allows for an aluminum prop. We’ll see how the FAA reacts to those claims.

          I am not a salesman for SMA. But I am enthusiastic proponent for this well engineered engine based on real world numbers. I went through the nightmare (twice) of trying to certify this EASA/FAA certified diesel aircraft engine, with an EASA/FAA certified Hartzell propeller, on a EASA/FAA certified twin engine airplane via STC. That would be an interesting article outside this blog. However, what I learned from this experience, the science revealed, and hard data accumulated shows me that Otto Aviation’s performance claims seem to be quite extravagant.

          Plus, I have first hand experience on how the FAA views this data both nationally/federally and regionally. In other words, different regions made up of different FSDO’s do not all agree on interpretation of this data. So, one must “shop” for a qualified region who are ready and willing to tackle and then sign off this technology. Many times, as was in my case, the interested and cooperating FSDO was nowhere near where I was based at…adding more time and expense.

          From a pure marketing standpoint, America is not enthused about diesel power whether in cars, boats, or airplanes. Since 80% of our goods and services are provided by diesel trucks nationwide, the average consumer considers diesels noisy, smokey, and doesn’t like the truck stop association a diesel seems to imply. Outside the US, diesel powered anythings ( including weed whackers) are normal and mainstream.

          Our attempt was to have humanitarian airplanes powered by diesel engines to reduce fuel costs and increase fuel availability no matter what part of the world we were trying to serve. We had letters of intent sign by over 1/3rd of the global ownership of this particular twin that was ready to buy from us this diesel conversion once officially approved to be put into commercial operation in addition to the airplanes we wanted to convert fro mission use.

          Now that we have Covid-19, plus the planet flowing with all sorts of oil reserves at a time when there is now reduced transportation demand, cheap avgas in the US trumps (no pun intended) use of Jet A in an engine most US aviators, mechanics, and flight operations are not used to nor comfortable with including the FAA. This is a significant reason why it has taken so long for SMA, Delta Hawk, Continental, now bankrupt Thielert/EPS, and several others wanting to introduce diesel technology combined with modern electronic fuel delivery systems to get anything approved…including “Johnny Lunchbucket” types like me who can see a better mousetrap that could vastly improve modern and legacy GA airplanes.

          I wish Otto well in this different looking, diesel powered airplane. But the science I understand does not support their performance claims. Maybe I am wrong. But time will tell.

  15. Laminar, shlaminar: the Celera 500L is essentially a Zeppelin with wings. The design predates the Wright Brothers by three decades, and was patented prior to 1900. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s not get
    carried away (sic), either. There’s nothing novel or revolutionary about reinventing the blimp. Let’s just hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as the Hindenburg, in 1937. Also, the video is highly misleading, since the “flight” is obviously a simulation, yet there’s a celebration at the end, with champagne and streamers. That’s not aviation news–it’s simply propaganda. No matter how reliable, durable and economical the plane may prove to be, you need to treat it with the same critical detachment as you would in investigating and reporting on a tragic accident–and above all, to prevent one.

  16. Wow! Can’t believe all the negativity! Personally I think it’s encouraging there are aviation entrepreneurs out there willing to do what aviation pioneers have done since the beginning … hanging it out there, pushing the edge of the envelope. Sure glad Arthur and company weren’t around to offer their words of wisdom to Wilbur and Orville. I love the resemblance to the X-1 Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier with.

  17. Who’d have thought Otto’s toy would garner such a response? I am not an engine designer or a gearhead but I do know some history.

    ALTITUDE – Early in WWII Germany designed a high-altitude reconnaissance plane – the Junkers JU 86R – powered by two 1000 hp two-stroke diesel engines which was capable of cruising above FL 450. While a turbocharger alone could not deliver the required performance, they found that ducting the turbo-compressor output through a modest intercooler, then to a shaft-driven MECHANICAL blower at the intake gallery allowed the engines to produce 60-70% of rated power above 40k. If the German engineers could develop this system in a matter of months, I suspect Otto’s could be equally creative over the years the airplane was in development.

    SPEED – That was not the JU 86’s strong suit. Long-range cruise came in around 150 mph (65 mph IAS). While Otto purports 460 (200 IAS). An outlandish claim? Maybe, but consider the Junkers was a 1930s design and fairly dirty. It had two tractor engines with radiators and hundreds of thousands of rivets. It weighed easily 4-5 times as much (15,000 lb) and sported a flat-plate drag who knows how many times greater. Granted, it had four times the power but these numbers suggest Otto’s speed claim, while optimistic, might be achievable.

    We AvWeb readers are really smart and know every performance claim made by investor-hungry startups is going to be right at the edge of the envelop. No one expects every claim to be met – certainly not simultaneously. There are any number of reasons to expect this upstart will fail, but I’m not ready to write its obituary based on performance just yet.

    The best thing about being the last respondent in a blog is that nobody is going to read what you write….. and get mad at you!

  18. I thought about this a few days, and came back ticked off. This “airplane” is vaporware. Let us not pretend otherwise.

    Why would they go to the trouble of making the vaporware? Because there are many naive investors with many millions. Family money, oil money, etc. I have seen money plundered from naive investors in my own work experience. A “news article” helps them dupe prospective investors.

    So. . . what about those performance numbers?

    They claim 460 mph. The baddest-ass propellor single is the TBM 900, which goes 330 knots/ 380 mph.  For $4 million. The Pilatus PC-12, which many people prefer to the TBM, goes 290 knots/ 335 mph. The highly regarded Cessna Mustang twin-engine jet’s cruise speed is 391mph. Beech’s King Air, Mitsubish’s MU2 — they practically fly backwards, compared with this claimed speed.

    So some guy named Otto says, “I’ll make the fuselage more aerodynamic, and get 100 mph more, from less horsepower, than anyone else ever did.” All over the world, PhD aircraft designers are slapping themselves upside the head thinking, “make the fuselage more aerodynamic! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    Now, about that video: We all have to get more alert for fake videos versus real videos. I grew up in an era when fake looked like Mickey Mouse and real looked like Toby Tyler. Now, it’s more complicated.

    But as fake videos go, this one wasn’t very difficult to suss out. It was just too sparse and clean. As others have noted, the flat takeoff and landing attitudes weren’t real.

    Now, if I wanted credibility, I would label the fake video “simulation.” And I wouldn’t splice in the bogus champagne party at the end. Nope, they threw in the champagne party to see if they could extinguish your b.s. detector.

    Also:  There was NONE of the information/interview you’d expect after a first test flight.  What speed, what altitude, what bank angle? How long was the takeoff roll, what was the rotation speed?  Did they try slow flight & feel for the stall buffet?  All stuff that Cessna would tell you if they were announcing a new airplane.

    As someone else pointed out, pusher props don’t get along with flying in icing conditions.  Did you see the de-ice boots on the wings?  Me neither.  The cartoonist forgot to draw them in.

    The cartoonist put windows in the interior view, but not in the exterior view.

    A Google search shows that this video press release has gotten lots of press coverage. I’m sorry to see that.

  19. A B-52 takes off and lands flat, with practically no rotation or flare, so we know it can be done, maybe with special conditions and special training.

    The Celera video appears to show flaperons and flaps down (in the first two seconds), and the Celera lifts off like a B-52, so the lower tail fin clears the ground. So far, so good — but landing is another thing.

    The article in Forbes (Sept 3) talked with CTO David Bogue about approach and landing — ‘the airplane must maintain an essentially flat pitch attitude or angle-of-attack (AoA) in flight, including during the approach-to-landing phase. That’s difficult Bogue admits, saying that the design of Celera’s flaps is critical to maintaining an AoA close to zero. “There’s landing attitude which has to be dealt with and you have to have enough [pilot] training to make sure that this is safe operationally,” Bogue says.’

    The Celera prototype is testing at the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville, where the two runways are 15,050 and 9,138 feet long. A more challenging operational case would be landing at DCA Reagan National, where an approach from the north follows the bends of the Potomac river. Descending while turning with both flaperons down seems non-trivial, then sticking the landing without a flare.

    I’m not saying it cannot be mastered, but landing is a special consideration for this plane.

  20. I for one believe the video is real. I noticed the chase plane’s prop in the lower right and the elevator deflecting up just prior to rotation during takeoff. Then the nose wheel lifts from the runway followed by the airplane lifting into the air. The missing footage from just after liftoff to the point of gear retraction was most likely edited for time to keep the viewer engaged. Test flights and test vehicles do things differently. One of those is to delay gear retraction for any number of reasons. I’m excited for this airplane but would I rather see the Lear Fan return….yes!
    Lastly the MU-2 is capable of leaving the earth without any rotation during a takeoff run. I’m not going to tell you how because its dangerous as heck and I don’t want someone getting into trouble. I was a test/demonstrator pilot and this was only ever rarely done as it was high risk but impressive.

    We do not know how the flight controls operate during different phases of flight. Many unknowns. In regard to minimal flare during landing…this is also not a problem. The long 737-800/-900 airplanes have vastly increased takeoff and landing speeds to keep minimum body angles to provide sufficient tail strike clearance. The 500L will definitely not be making full stall type landings like a Cessna 150. LOL These airplanes will need to be flown onto the runway and use power or increased flap to arrest sink if needed. Flight control computers can also do lots of things that are hidden from a pilot. Does this airplane have flight spoilers? These can be used to vary lift during approach and landing instead of making pitch changes. Remember there are lots of ways to solve problems. Lift, gravity, thrust and drag considerations are all on the same playing field though and are substantial. I believe the biggest hurdle will be the FAA. They have done more to harm aviation than help and every year it gets worse. FAA certified is a joke. If you don’t think so ask yourself why there are so many AD’s on FAA certified stuff. Defund the FAA!