This year, more than 11,000 products were analyzed, and Plana's eVTOL was impressive enough to become the winner in the Professional Concept category. Lilium (based in Germany) and Vertical (a UK company) had previously won this award, which puts the South Korean startup in an excellent company.
Plana says that its eVTOL focuses on passenger comfort above all else. It boasts an unusual six-passenger configuration in a world where most electric air taxis are designed with four seats or even just two. The aircraft's cabin also features large, symmetrical doors that make boarding easier. Inside, bucket seats and three-point belts keep things comfortable with added safety. Also, the cabin is spacious enough to integrate adequate storage solutions.
Performance-wise, the Plana hybrid eVTOL promises a cruising speed of 186 mph (300 kph) and a top speed of 217 mph (350 kph). In contrast, the hybrid propulsion enables a better range compared to purely electric eVTOLs, of more than 300 miles (500 km).
The aerodynamic fuselage and the six tilt-rotor configuration are primarily responsible for the increased performance. And Plana intends to make its hybrid aircraft even more sustainable in the future by replacing conventional jet fuel with SAF (sustainable aviation fuel).
When running on SAF, the future air taxi will be as clean as a battery-electric VTOL, with the bonus of a greater range. According to the builder, it will be able to cut emissions by 80% compared to conventional helicopters.
Plana's ambitions expand beyond South Korea. The eVTOL builder also wants to have its product certified by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). To get there, it will open offices in the US. Silicon Valley and Irvine, California, are officially the future new locations for Plana.
If things continue to go well for the South Korean aviation company, a demonstration version of the aircraft should be ready to take to the sky by next year. The ultimate goal is to start large-scale production for the six-passenger hybrid-electric VTOL in 2028. Right now, this air taxi concept has almost no competitors in its size category. Still, we might see more of these green air taxis with a bigger capacity by the end of the decade.