The first step was to design and certify a new aircraft type powered by a battery-electric or a hybrid-electric system. This has been the main focus over the past years. It's now time to focus more on infrastructure and the actual integration of these new-generation aircraft into an urban air mobility ecosystem. For this goal, eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) manufacturers need support from various industry partners and government officials.
In the case of Plana, the partner that will help it reach the next level is another South Korean startup. Moviation is a young air mobility service provider building its business around this new aircraft type.
It introduced an innovative service platform called Vonaer earlier this year in February. What's great about it is that it allows customers to book electric air taxis (and conventional helicopters) digitally while linking these air vehicles with ground transportation services for maximum efficiency.
Moviation will also put the data it has gathered to good use, helping Plana refine its eVTOL design. The two are improving cabin configuration and the overall customer experience for the upcoming launch of air taxi services.
There should be little left to improve since Plana fetched this year's iF Design Award for professional concept, confirming the qualities of its aircraft cabin design. The Plana hybrid-electric VTOL is spacious enough for up to six passengers, and it reveals comfort-oriented features such as large, symmetrical doors for easy boarding and bucket seats with three-point belts.
Thanks to the hybrid propulsion, this South-Korean VTOL will also be able to cover longer and more challenging routes, promising a range of over 300 miles (500 km) at a cruising speed of 186 mph (300 kph). The best part is that it will combine this longer range with low emission levels, similar to the purely electric eVTOLs, thanks to using SAF (sustainable aviation fuel). By switching to SAF, even this hybrid-electric aircraft can cut emission levels by a whopping 80%.
Folks in the US will get the chance to experience this for themselves. The South-Korean startup also plans to get its hybrid air taxi certified by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). It's opening a regional office in Silicon Valley, California too.