Zeva eVTOL Completes First Untethered Flight


Zeva’s Zero electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has successfully completed its first untethered test flight, according to an announcement from the Tacoma-based startup on Thursday. The vehicle made a total of four uncrewed flights during the test session and conducted maneuvers including a controlled hover, simulated taxi at slow speeds and limited vertical climb. Zeva says its team completed more than 50 tethered flights with the design prior to the untethered test.

“This is a huge inflection point for ZEVA as we join an exclusive set of proven flying eVTOL platforms, and a testament to the relentless hard work and ingenuity of our entire team over the past two and half years,” said Zeva CEO Stephen Tibbitts. “We are dissecting our learnings from our critical first taxiing flight, which is a direct result of the support we’ve received from our investors and community, leading us to bring in additional talent to spearhead this historic moment.”

The company says the Zero “personal flying machine” will have a 50-mile range, cruise at up to 160 MPH and be small enough to “fit in a standard automobile parking space.” The eVTOL, which features a flying wing airframe and eight electric motor-driven propellers, is designed for a single pilot. Zeva currently estimates the price point at under $250,000.

Video: Zeva
Kate O'Connor
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. Looks claustrophic! I applaud the idea that it will fit in a standard automobile parking space but wonder what happens when the car next to it opens a door and dents a rotor. This looks like another novelty electric aircraft that won’t make it on a mass scale due to limited range, impractical charging facilities and high price.

  2. An another example of venture capital being thrown against the wall to see which strand of cash will stick. I agree with the reviewers here. Ya know, we should band together, create a logo, and then sell our “consulting” services to the (possibly a few light bulbs short in their chandelier) venture capitalists who seem to be throwing around cash without much forethought.

    • I’ve been watching the Mecum Kissimmee auction the past few days. The absolutely INSANE amounts of money people are paying for vehicles is downright sinful … and I ain’t religious. E.G., $1.3M for a Glacier Park 1936 bus!! So as you say, Rich, these folks gotta be laughing every night. BTW: I wonder if those landing wheels came from Lowes or Home Depot.

      • I also watch the car auctions and the rise in the value of winning bids is nothing short of absurd! There must be a bunch of folks who invested in Bit Coin early on. One must also consider huge amount of “free” money that has been handed out by Uncle Joe, or recently inherited from the greatest generation and baby boomers estates. I have been following the car auction circuit for years and the increase in value of both ordinary and specialty cars probably illustrates the real level of inflation. It also shows how desperate folks are to find an investment better than shrinking dollars. I carry $50s and $100s like I used to carry $10 and $20s. I guess it is no more questionable to have a piece of paper saying you are part of the future than to own a vehicle from the past that is so valuable and fragile you cannot drive it. I had my muscle cars including an Olds 442 and a “Vette and my memories are enough. Same with the C 182 I owned and flew for 35 years, but none of my money will be invested in electric flying whatevers. I would rather see my dollars shrink than vanish completely while appearing as a financial idiot.

  3. “The Zero is designed for a single pilot.” Don’t you mean a single passenger? After all, it is an autonomous flyer.

    Actually guys, we are all missing the point here. This “aircraft” is not intended for licensed pilots. Their target audience is rich people who love techie gadgets and don’t know a thing about how to fly. As Andrew said above, I can’t wait to see what happens when some clueless driver throws open his car (or pickup) door and prangs a prop. Does the “pilot” even notice as he hops in for the return trip? Or if he does, does he have get-home-itis and decides to fly it anyway? Pretty sure they won’t be dong a thorough preflight.

  4. Well, the outrigger wheels ought to be cheap, at least. They look like they came off of a shopping cart.

  5. How embarrassing to land in front of your friends and then a little wind gust blows you helplessly face down into the asphalt.

    • It’ll probably have an emergency escape hammer inside if the occupant becomes trapped? As to the handles Klaus is wondering about … they’re there … they autonomously pop out in the event of a crash. And … 160mph … give us all a break, will ya !!

      This vaporware stuff is beginning to bore me!!

    • Marketingspeak worthy of the CEO: “The stability-spawning heft of the Onboard Rechargable Power Cell Array permits ZEVA to plant itself upon arrival with breeze-cheating authority.” In other words it’s not going anywhere.

  6. Wow. What are they thinking.

    Presumably to achieve 160 MPH the thing has to be flying flat in flying saucer mode with the “pilot” looking straight down. Good thing it has a 50 mile range. Anything more is likely to cause severe neck problems.

    • Assuming the thing flies right in saucer mode, the prone position flight is an interesting problem. Face down gives you good visibility but is uncomfortable. Face up is comfortable but you can’t see anything but sky. You could add a big mirror but everything would be reversed. You could add cameras and a viewscreen but that would probably be annoying.
      It could make for a very narrow and low drag airplane though. Needs a very good autoland system ’cause you are likely to fall asleep. 😉

    • Maybe it’s intended to cruise “sideways”, using powered lift alone to defy gravity. The target demographic doesn’t need to see where they’re going while they’re looking at their phones.

  7. Their choice of “music” in the video is enough of a turn off. That choice indicates exactly WHO the people are that they are targeting in this ad–hint–NOT business executives or people in need of travel–and I can’t believe there are enough 20-year-olds with and extra $250,000 to spend on a plaything with such limited capability.

    ANOTHER 3 minutes wasted on somebody’s pipe dream!

    • Notice the deliberate attempt to drown out the actual noise level of the “ aircraft?” Just like motorcycle ads, music is used to cover the loudness of the machine when in use.

  8. Lay down yer bets on the first paint job is a smiley face, then the red circle/slash ‘no whatever’, then a coin, then a giant, frightening eye looking down flying over a crowd, haha.

  9. The thing looks like another oversized drone or flying saucer stood on end. Yawn…. I would never fly in anything unless I or a qualified pilot was at the controls. More wasted VC money for a toy. Also, kill the annoying music. What is the deal with have wonderland sounding music for a odd looking flying saucer?

  10. I wouldn’t call that an “aircraft.” There should be another term for a vehicle that is totally dependent on engine power to stay airborne, and has no hope of surviving the crash if there is total power failure. These are the vehicles that should require an Airframe Parachute System.