The Orange County Business Journal, the second largest business media outlet in California, briefly interviewed local success story, Ben Tigner, co-Founder and CEO of Overair Butterfly, earlier this month.
Tigner’s Overair is a spin-off from Karem Aircraft and is located in Santa Ana. The company was formed in late 2019 and recently has enjoyed a string of triumphs including a USD145 million investment from South Korean company Hanwha in June; Airbus Executive, Valerie Manning, joining as Chief Commercial Officer earlier this month; as well as Tigner being honoured at the ‘Business Journal Innovator of the Year Awards’ three weeks ago.
He enthuses, “Ten years from now we’ll all be flying around in eVTOLs. It’s kind of a neat idea, isn’t it? It’s sort of something we’ve all dreamed about watching the Jetsons from way back when.” Adding, “Reality will be a little bit different from imagination, but it is coming soon.”
Overair operates out of 203,000 square ft of space in two buildings. Tigner remarks, “We are beginning manufacturing of our first prototype for flight and are presently rapidly building up the team behind it.”
The company already has 130 employees. He continues, “We have the majority of our staff located in Santa Ana, although some are employed in other states.”
The eVTOL prototype is expected to start flying in the second half of next year, with commercial service beginning in 2026.
The company is a spinoff from Karem Aircraft of Lake Forest, led by legendary Predator drone pioneer Abe Karem. Tigner served as President before co-founding Overair with Karem.
Last December the company formed a strategic partnership with UK-based helicopter firm, Bristow, to help Overair develop the aircraft’s design as well as key performance parameters including FAA certification plans and flight planning best practices. In addition, Bristow has pre-ordered up to 50 Butterfly Aircraft.
A major craft innovation is using four large propellers that produce less sound than many of its competitors, as they spin slowly when hovering and even slower when cruising, drawing only a fraction of the available motor power, therefore giving the Butterfly extra payload capacity and power margins to operate safely in challenging environmental conditions. This advanced system comes via decades of military work led by Karem. Overair claims the Butterfly will be the quietest eVTOL in the industry when it is launched.
Sungchul Eoh, CEO of Hanwha Systems, commented, “With regard to our investment, we assessed that Overair has the numerous patents and core technologies required to develop highly efficient, low noise vehicles. We expect the company to develop a superb craft with its Optimum Speed Propulsion System.”
The aircraft is a sleek and elegantly designed quad-tiltrotor aircraft, holding up to five passengers and a pilot. The Butterfly is being designed to have a range of over 100 miles, the ability to recharge quickly between trips, with a top speed of around 200 miles per hour. Overair plans to sell its eVTOLs to other companies as well as run its own flying taxi service.
As the company continues to work towards FAA certification, Overair is also collaborating with NASA and Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles to develop Urban Air Mobility routing and infrastructure.
: 1 Pilot
: 5 Passengers with Luggage
: Speed 200 mph
: Range 100 miles
: Payload 1,100 lb
: 4 Propellers. A quad tiltrotor with Optimum Speed Tiltrotor (OSTR) technology; a large rotor, slow turning propeller.
: 4 Electric Motors
: Battery Power Source
: 1 High Wing
: 1 V Tail
: Retractable Landing Gear
: Safety Features Include, Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) providing safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo as well as redundancies in the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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(News Source: https://www.ocbj.com/)