Arizona-based helicopter manufacturer Rotor X (RX) announced its plans to enter the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) game with its new electric air taxi. Dubbed RX eTransporter, the aircraft promises to be “the world’s most efficient and cost-effective helicopter for civilian use.”
RX is currently running the former RotorWay International facility in Arizona, which has been producing kit helicopters for the past 53 years. For the development of RX eTransporter, the company has been collaborating with Advanced Tactics (AT), the makers of the “Black Knight Transformer” eVTOL for the U.S. Army.
The technology behind the new air taxi has been tested for more than a decade, with AT having produced numerous heavy-lift multi-rotor prototypes. According to RX, AT is now working on two contracts with the U.S. Air Force related to the RX eTransporter.
Designed to carry six passengers on distances over 230 miles (370 km), the quad-rotor aircraft will provide plenty of legroom and charter-jet type interiors. RX is also considering an open-interior version to be used for air taxi operations, package delivery, or search and rescue operations.
Unlike most eVTOLs that rely on a large wing to make the aircraft efficient, RX eTransporter uses a smaller wing to maximize natural lift. It also doesn’t require a tail rotor, which considerably improves its capability.
RX eTransporter will have a maximum flight time of 1.5 hours on a single charge, and it will be able to hover for over 45 minutes. This is roughly three times the amount of time regular eVTOLs can hover.
The air taxi will reach a top speed of 160 mph (257 kph) and will cruise at 140 mph (225 kph). While that’s not the fastest speed we’ll get from an eVTOL, RX is not focusing on that. The design is aimed at efficiency, allowing the aircraft to carry up to 1,600 lb (726 kg) of cargo at an altitude of “over 25,000 feet” (7,620 meters).
The company expects to obtain FAA certification later this year and plans to conduct the first flight this fall. Next year, the RX eTransporter will start testing in Alaska as an experimental aircraft.