Hyundai Motor Group has appointed Ben Diachun as Chief Technology Officer of its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division, who will help develop its strategy with the vision of bringing Hyundai’s eVTOL aircraft to market by 2028.
Diachun has two decades of engineering and executive leadership experience and most recently served as CEO and President of Opener, the California-based startup which is currently developing its Blackfly VTOL aircraft. Additionally, he was President at Scaled Composites, where he also held senior-level technology roles.
Commenting on his new role, Diachun said: “I have been fascinated by technology and air travel since I was a child and am thrilled to put my experience to work at the Urban Air Mobility Division.
“With an incredibly talented team and the manufacturing expertise of Hyundai Motor Group, we are well positioned to transform the human travel experience. I am honoured to join this group and excited for what we will accomplish together.”
Diachun earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Experimental Aircraft Association and is an industry advisor to Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Over the course of his career, Diachun helped develop 16 groundbreaking aerospace vehicles, including Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne. In his new role as Chief Technology Officer of the UAM Division, Diachun will lead its growing R&D and engineering operation, as well as its technological innovations.
Hyundai worked with Uber Elevate on its SA-1 air taxi concept and showcased it at CES 2020. It will have a cruising speed up to 180 miles per hour and travel distances of 60 miles at altitudes of between 1,000-2,000ft.
The SA-1 will be 100 per cent electric, and during peak hours will require between five to seven minutes for recharging. Hyundai has said the aircraft will be piloted initially, but plan over time to move it towards autonomous operations. Once operational, it will seat four passengers on each trip.
Diachun will work closely with other members of the Urban Air Mobility Division leadership team and report to Jaiwon Shin, President at Hyundai Motor Group and Head of the Urban Air Mobility Division.
Shin added: “We are excited to welcome Ben to Hyundai Motor Group as chief technology officer of our Urban Air Mobility Division. His track record of building groundbreaking aircrafts as well as agile, collaborative and diverse teams is critical to our mission to develop the best and most innovative design for our UAM vehicle.”