Electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) manufacturer Zeva has announced that its Zeva Zero flying wing airframe recently made its first successful test flights. The manufacturer of the unique, one-person craft, which looks hauntingly like a flying saucer, had previously flown a smaller test version, but this latest test flight is the first time a full-sized version of the vehicle has flown without a tether.
BACKGROUND: FLYING SAUCER FOR ONE, PLEASE
VTOL aircraft, which are designed to fly people around and above typical automotive congestion, often referred to as air-taxis, are becoming more and more prevalent. However, as of 2022, none have reached the commercial market.
The Debriefpreviously reported on the development of Zeva’s flying wing airframe, but at that time the company had not yet flown the full-sized craft without keeping it tethered to the ground for safety reasons. After those previous tests were successful, the team decided to increase their goals to this latest test, a full-sized vehicle flown tether-free.
ANALYSIS: PERSONAL FLYING SAUCER MAKES 4 MINUTES OF HISTORY
“ZEVA, a pioneer in zero-emission electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft transportation, successfully achieved its first untethered, powered, controlled flight test for its full-scale ZEVA ZERO flying wing airframe utilizing its eight zero-emission electric motor-driven propellers,” announces the company’s press release. “The major milestone for the Tacoma-based startup was captured in this new video in rural Pierce County, Washington, on Sunday, January 9th, 2022, as part of its rigorous test program to achieve FAA airworthiness certification.”
According to that same release, the demonstration craft completed four separate flights, which included hovering, simulated taxiing maneuvers at low speeds, and even some limited vertical climbing. All told, the four test flights added up to over four minutes of in-air testing. A dummy was used in the pilot seat, with test flights using actual humans slated for a later date.
“This is a huge inflection point for ZEVA as we join an exclusive set of proven flying eVTOL platforms, and a testament to the relentless hard work and ingenuity of our entire team over the past two and half years,” said Stephen Tibbitts, CEO and Chairman of ZEVA in the release. “We are dissecting our learnings from our critical first taxiing flight, which is a direct result of the support we’ve received from our investors and community, leading us to bring in additional talent to spearhead this historic moment.”
OUTLOOK: MORE STEPS BEFORE FLYING THE COMMERCIAL SKIES
The company is quick to point out that much more must be accomplished before this personalized flying saucer can actually go to the commercial market, including the crucial step of receiving FAA approval. However, with this latest milestone completed, the folks at ZEVA feel like it’s only a matter of time before first responders and other critical personnel can use this type of vehicle to go to places of types of vehicles cannot reach.
Of course, they also admit that while military and emergency personnel are the intended first market for their vehicle, they do dream of a future when just about anyone can buy and fly their own personal flying saucer.
“We are eager to continue to our next stage of hover flight testing on our road to certification and eventual autonomous flight allowing anyone, not just pilots, to access zero-emission point-to-point travel,” said Tibbitts.
Follow and connect with author Christopher Plain on Twitter:@plain_fiction