Axe by Skyfly, unveiled on June 24, is just one of a handful of kitbuilt, noncommercial eVTOLs coming to the market. A formal flight test was not mentioned in the company’s press release, but the Axe can be seen taxiing, taking-off, flying, and landing in its official launch video.
With a base price $180,000, the Axe is said to travel at 100 miles per hour with a range of 100 miles. The range doubles to 200 miles when equipped with an optional range extender that the company describes as a “lightweight rotary engine providing electrical charge to the batteries.”
“The two-seat Axe personal EVTOL aircraft is uniquely capable of operating like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter,” Skyfly said in a press release, “When a road or runway is available, the Axe can take off and land conventionally in just 50 metres, conserving energy and range. However, when there is no runway, it can take off and land vertically – including automatic landings on a ‘homing patch’ attached to the top deck of a yacht while it is at sail.”
Unlike many of the commercial eVTOLs and air taxi concepts, the Axe was specifically designed to be certified as a homebuilt light personal aircraft, the company said. “The Axe has a simple and lightweight design with fixed-angle wings and rotors, allowing for better range and safety redundancies, while at the same time reducing complexity. It is currently in the certification process in the United Kingdom with the Light Aircraft Association, which is expected to be completed in 2024, when the first aircraft will be delivered to customers. That certification will allow the Axe to be flown in most European countries and beyond.”
The Axe was co-developed by Skyfly founder Michael Thompson and aeronautical engineer and designer William Brooks. Thompson said, “The design features are unique in that it has two sets of short wings, and in that the engines are mounted in a 45 degree angle and do not rotate. The rotating engines or rotating wings the competition uses are heavy, complex, expensive, less safe and require maintenance. The wings allow for lift giving it range and enabling conventional fixed wing take-offs, and also give it the ability to glide at a 10 to one ratio with mechanical linkage if there would be an engine failure and the redundancy of the 8 engines were to be compromised. There is also a third layer of security with a ballistic parachute. The design is kept simple and very light and robust—because Skyfly believes the only criterium is kilowatt hours per passenger mile: using as little energy as possible to cover a passenger for a mile.”
Skyfly company official, Jaap Rademaker said, “An interesting commercial angle of the Axe is, that because commercial air taxis will not be autonomous for a decade or so, they will require pilots, and those pilots will need to be trained to fly EVTOLs. With the Axe being a uniquely cost-effective side-by-side two-seater, its potential in the training market is huge. The Axe is the bridge that the whole EVTOL market needs to reach its future potential.”