This is the program through which a new eVTOL ((electric vertical take-off and landing) was recently awarded airworthiness approval by USAF. Called Heaviside, this aircraft was developed by Kitty Hawk, a company that has been playing with innovative flight technologies for over 10 years now.
What makes Heaviside particularly interesting? This single-passenger aircraft (named after English engineer Oliver Heaviside) is supposed to be a fast, quiet and sustainable alternative air vehicle. With its 8 variable-pitch electric propellers, it can reach a maximum speed of 180 mph (289 kph) and a range of 100 miles (161 km) on a single charge. And it accomplishes this with half of the energy per mile requirements of an electric car.
It can operate in autonomous flight mode or can be piloted remotely, which makes it more versatile. Plus, it’s almost silent. With a sound level of 38 decibels at 1,000 feet (304 meters), this eVTOl is 100 times less noisier than conventional helicopters, according to the tests performed by Kitty Hawk.
Starting now, AFRL engineers and other military stakeholders will supervise the upcoming flight tests for Heaviside, which recently became the first eVTOL to be deployed in an AFWERX medical evacuation exercise.
According to AFRL, future military and commercial applications for Heaviside, including search and rescue missions, are currently being evaluated.