Urban air design: mixing knowledge with educated bets

Ilya Khanykov, president of Bartini, discusses the difficulties of finalising the exterior design for its flying car, ahead of published requirements for the new urban air transportation market

Bartini, the Russian based flying car manufacturer is now in the process of developing its first commercial aircraft.

The company has finalised the exterior design for its four seater VTOL flying car - a task made all the more difficult the vehicle is aimed at a new market with no formalised requirements.

Bartini president Ilya Khanykov explained how the company had reached its final design through different sources. He said: “When you design the aircraft by the book, you have to start with the requirements. Because it is a new industry, the new application the new massive, disruptive shift in transportation, we have to learn somehow, design or make bets on what the future requirements will be.”

“We have been talking to so many stakeholders and the result of that was integrated in the very clear cut vision of the final product to which we will be working in our development process.”

Hydrogen delivers more energy, less charging time

The Bartini VTOL will have the capability to use hydrogen as a fuel source to reduce aircraft downtime while refuelling. Khanykov said use of hydrogen would improve the operational efficiency of the fleet, giving four times the energy per kilogramme of weight. Compared with a battery life of 30 minutes, the VTOL would be able to fly for 2 hours from the fuelling of the hydrogen tank, which also takes 10-fold less time than time taken to refuel a battery.

He said: “In one of the first decisions we made, we identified that the core requirement is to have as much energy as board on possible. The refuelling requirement, the time you need to spend on the ground in order to replensh the energy source, is another, broader infrastructure requirement.”

Bartini said having the capability to use hydrogen fuel cells would “future proof” the aircraft and the company has established partnerships with hydrogen fuel cell developers, enabling them to understand how to produce a product that  both meets company needs and has the capacity to scale.

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