Former chief executives from aviation giants Sikorsky and Cessna are planning a new aircraft that they say could revolutionise the way business travellers fly.
Called the TriFan 600, the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will provide “true door-to-door travel, with speed, range and comfort comparable to that of a business jet”.
The aircraft consists of six luxury seats, and can fly fast and high above any weather, reaching as far as any regular business jet can today. But because of its ability to fly door to door, like a helicopter, travel times would be shortened for wealthy business executives who have lawns large enough to land the TriFan on.
The planes are expected to be sold for $10 million (£6.5m) each. The design incorporates a vertical take off and landing system that instead of transporting passengers from airport to airport, could transport them directly to their intended destination.
“This changes everything,” claims the company, officially called XTI Aircraft. It said that purchase prices for aircraft in the same market as the TriFan can reach $18 million, so the TriFan is looking like a bargain for the well-to-do business traveller.
The company’s vice president, Jeff Pino, is known for growing Sikorsky from a $2bn to a $7bn company during his role as chief executive. Sikorsky is now lined up for acquisition by Lockheed Martin for $9bn.
The aircraft, announced just two weeks ago, has already secured more than $4 million in potential shares. Equity crowdfunders can reserve shares on the crowfunding website that is hosting XTI, StartEngine.com.
Although it doesn’t technically count as $4 million in XTI’s pockets, an approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission would turn the reserved shares into reality for the Denver-based company.
In a statement, Pino said: “The response to our announcement of the equity crowdfunding plan and to this revolutionary aircraft itself has been overwhelming.”
“People are captivated and excited by the world of possibilities this aircraft presents. They recognise that this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and want to get involved early as stakeholders.”
The TriFan 600 has already been in development for two years, looking rather like a civilian version of the Boeing V-22 Osprey, which uses a tilt-rotor system for the US military.
XTI said the TriFan will be the world’s first commercially certified vertical takeoff airplane. Using three fans as its propulsion method, the TriFan 600 lifts off vertically, followed by the two wing fans tilting forward to induce flight.
The TriFan will then reach cruising speed in just 90 seconds, where the fuselage-mounted fan needed for lift off will fold away as it is no longer needed.
The company claims that the aircraft opens up possibilities that don’t yet exist in the civilian aviation market. The company points out uses in medical emergencies, using the plane as an air ambulance, as well as tourism. But its main focus initially will be that off the business traveller.
“Around the world, businesses and individuals who want to get to their destinations faster choose to travel via personal aircraft,” said XTI.
“Every wasted hour due to travel time has an inherent opportunity cost. In order to combat this, business jet owners often pay millions more for additional speed.”
Others members of the project include Charles Johnson, former president and COO of Cessna, and Dennis Olcott, an expert on aircraft development and Federal Aviation Administration certification.
“Globally there are over 60,000 business airplanes and helicopters in operation,” said the company. “XTI predicts demand for fast runway-free transportation will result in 40-100 TriFan sales per year. It won’t replace every aircraft, but it could become the new standard for private business jets.”
During the next 12 months, XTI said will be continuing to develop the aircraft and start taking orders.
“After successfully flying the proof of concept, we intend to build and test one or more prototypes used to secure certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” the company said.
“That certification will allow XTI to commence commercial production and sales of the aircraft. Production and initial sales will depend on meeting capital milestones as well as FAA approval.”
As of this week, XTI has raised just over $4.5 million in non-binding indications of interest. The company said that it views equity crowdfunding as a creative way to involve everyone as “true” stakeholders who can work together.
“It will also bring XTI one step closer towards meeting key financing milestones required to get the TriFan 600 to market,” said XTI.
All images © XTI Aircraft
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