Exciting news from South Korea with an announcement that leading Korean VTOL company, Plana Aero, is collaborating with Jeju Air, a leader in the low cost carrier industry, to develop Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and compete in the country’s major K-UAM Grand Challenge first announced at the beginning of last year, reports a press release. This is an initiative from the South Korean Government to set up a domestic UAM (Urban Air Mobility) industry. The first phase is planned to unfold during the second half of this year.

No less than 124 companies are participating in the Challenge (including Hyundai) as well as the prestigious Korea Aerospace Research Institute, alongside various overseas companies like Joby and Skyports.

The press release states, “Both companies will also actively collaborate on AAM-related Air Operator Certificate (AOC) qualification standards and the training of industry workers including pilots.”

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Plana’s proposal is not your typical eVTOL, but a HeVTOL, powered by a hybrid propulsion system. The aircraft can also run on SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) to help further reduce its carbon footprint.

Braden J. Kim, CEO and co-Founder of Plana, commented, “Through the collaboration with Jeju Air, we will be able to provide clients the unique experience of long-distance flying services which has become our competitive edge.” Kim E-bae, CEO of Jeju Air, added, “As an air carrier, developing hybrid AAM is a process for us to expand our business model beyond UAM.”

Like most VTOLs built with hybrid-electric powertrains, the primary goal is an extended flight range. Plana says its aircraft would be able to carry between four to six passengers over 310 miles while cruising at 186 mph.

Last month, Plana displayed a scaled-down prototype of its HeVTOL at the South Korean Busan Drone Show, the largest event in Asia that’s specifically designed for drones. The event was covered by evtolinsights.com.

Meanwhile, the first demonstration flight of Plana’s initial battery-electric version is scheduled to take place towards the end of this year. The company also plans to open a branch office in the U.S. at a similar time, in order to collaborate closely with FAA certification authorities.

Plana Aero aims to commercialise its certified aircraft in 2028.

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