Lyte Aviation reveals new 40-seat hybrid eVTOL aircraft

Advanced air mobility innovator Lyte Aviation has revealed its 40-seat (hybrid) eVTOL SkyBus and SkyTruck programme, designed to be five times more fuel efficient than current helicopters.
Lyte Aviation reveals new 40-seat hybrid eVTOL aircraft
LA-44 Skybus. Courtesy of Lyte Aviation.

The LA-44 SkyBus and complementary SkyTruck cargo variant are designed around a 4.5 tonne payload and are the accumulation of three years’ R&D. The SkyBus will offer a range of 1,000 kilometres with a max speed of 300 km/hr, using mainly currently available technology. The LA-44 is a hybrid electric tandem tilt-wing design, aimed at disrupting other futuristic looking next-gen designs.  A full-scale prototype is being planned within 24 months.

The SkyBus’ design features two separate propulsion systems, one electric and powered by hydrogen fuel cells, the other turbine powered by jet fuel/SAF.

“The use of turbine engines will likely remain unavoidable for the foreseeable future, so in order to achieve useful and business-sensible ranges as well as quicker time to market, we have opted for a hybrid, partly electric VTOL” said Freshta Farzam (Founder & CEO). “My personal inspiration with this operating concept stems from the Rotodyne aircraft of the 1950’s.  Imagine 70 years later after accomplishing those 350 successful test flights, what can be achieved thanks to the advances in technology that we have seen, and continue to see.”

The LA-44 design is powered by four conventional turbine engines, running on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) complemented with four electric motors at the wingtips for control and stability, powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

“Conventional, highly reliable turboprops are the best option for our aircraft programme for the time being, with the aim to operate and refuel practically anywhere with the current infrastructure” added Freshta Farzam. “With the constant evolution and expected investment in global infrastructure, including vertiports, energy sources (SAF & green Hydrogen) and electric powerplants, the ambition would be to become fully hydrogen-electric in the future. We are focusing on facilitating the easy movement of passenger and cargo air transportation in a fast,  safe, cost-effective and sustainable way.  SkyTruck will be designed to deliver time-sensitive cargo faster from point to point, without reliance on runways, designed for the time critical demands of the onshore and (especially) offshore industry. Furthermore, the LA-44 would be honed for operation in other rugged operational conditions and (in the absence of ground infrastructure) in remote areas.  It will feature underslung load capability: a 4.5 tonne payload and 17 tonnes’ gross weight. The LA-44’s unique design will enable us to tap mass transport capabilities, displacing air transport and land transport modalities such as buses, trains and trucks.”

Speaking at Helicopter Investor 2023 in London this afternoon, Freshta introduced Inmarsat and Inflight Canada, two newly disclosed early partners who are joining Lyte Aviation in the collaboration. 

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