This agreement isn't just about delivering air taxis to the South Korean island but about actively participating in the AAM ecosystem project. It starts with setting up the right infrastructure and continues with plans for extended manufacturing, pilot training, and advanced MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations).
Jeju Island is already one of the most unique tourist destinations in the world due to it being a registered biosphere. A place with such a special geography and biodiversity is the ideal market for zero-emission vehicles, like the Butterfly air taxi.
Jeju is gearing up to become carbon neutral by the end of this decade, which means it will produce all of its energy from renewable sources. Introducing emission-free air transportation is a big part of that, and Overair's eVTOL is set to be used for tourism and medical operations.
This recent development comes after Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace announced a $145 million investment in Overair last year.
Overair famously introduced its unique eVTOL concept by saying "Think down-sized military transport, not an up-sized drone." Unlike most eVTOLs, which are equipped with numerous smaller propellers distributed along the wings and on the tail, Butterfly sports only four big ones that can spin slowly. As a result, Butterfly claims to offer unmatched payload capacity and to be the quietest in its class while also being powerful enough to withstand challenging weather conditions.
This is mostly possible because it requires less power for hover flight, something that's directly derived from its unique propulsion system. Butterfly promises a maximum range of 100 miles (161 km) and a top speed of 200 mph (322 kph) coupled with an impressive capacity – it can carry five passengers plus cargo.
At the start of last year, Overair kicked off advanced tests over the Southern California desert in order to expose the eVTOL's propulsion system to very harsh aerodynamic conditions. The first full-scale prototype test flight is set for the end of this year, but the production version won't enter service earlier than 2026.
The name behind Overair is Abe Karem, known as one of the drone pioneers of the '80s who developed several unmanned aerial vehicle concepts for the military.