“Rebuild sky to be a place where everybody can access” – Plana Aero
South Korea, the fifth largest country in the world producing passenger cars, is now geared up for entering the aircraft or, more precisely, “air taxi”.
A Startup company Plana Aero founded by Braden J. Kim Ph.D. (CEO), Minyoung Ahn (CSO/COO), and Jinmo Lee Ph.D. (CPO) in July, 2021 is working on a long range eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) air taxi “Planar”. The company’s vision is to rebuild the sky as a place that everyone can access.
This air taxi is supposed to travel at the speed of 217 mph with 350 miles range. The technology runs on batteries and turbine generators. The model satisfies the powertrain architecture with six tilt rotors. The fuselage of this aircraft is rather long and slim, with canards at the front. Out of 6, 4 tilt-rotors face upwards while the rear two face downwards during the VTOL operations. By the looks of it, the height of these tilt props is low at a person-mincing height, but the firm doesn’t seem concerned about it.
The Company Planned to Target the Commercial Certification by 2024
The company shared that the air taxi “Planar” will meet the air by 2024. Korea’s air taxi technology must earn all the necessary certificates to start a commercial flight. There will be demonstration flights from August 2023 to March 2024, and a report will be released in May 2024. However, the company plans to target commercial certification and introduction into operation by 2028.
The Developers of “Planar” Concluded $10 Million in Investments
The Startup Company has recently concluded that the fundraising of their technology ‘Air Taxi’ is around $10 million, including the 2021 seed round. Participants in the pre-series A funding round included FuturPlay, Schmidt, Kibo Technology Fund, DSC Investment, Shinhan Asset Management, DT & Investment, Industrial Bank of Korea, and Xenoholdings Asia.
How is ‘Planar’ Compared to Other Air Taxis?
Developing Air Taxis has been a goal for many aerospace companies for years. It is expected that the public will be able to travel through these air taxis as soon as 2025.
Besides South Korea, many other countries are in the race for advanced air mobility (AAM) manufacturing. The US, Germany, and China are among the leading countries in the race for air taxis.
Germany’s All-Electric Aircraft
Germany, one of the best in the aerospace industry for the last two decades, is working too on air taxis. The German aerospace company Volocoptor completed its first flight successfully in December 2021 and is now set to launch the flight in 2026.
US’s Self-Flying Air Taxi
A US-based company Wisk Aero developed the first-ever self-flying air taxi. This self-flying air taxi includes multi-vehicle supervisors that intervene when needed.
Another US-based company, Joby Aviation, received the necessary certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to start their commercial air service. However, the company is taking time to launch its first commercial flight and improve its technology.
China’s “E20”, an All-Electric Vehicle
China’s five-seater electric air taxi has entered the testing phase and is expected to launch for commercial use in 2024. China’s air taxi successfully took the test flight with an empty cockpit in Dubai for 90 minutes. “This is the first step in achieving the dream,” said the Executive Director of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Routes for the Air Taxi in South Korea
Korea has planned routes for future air taxis by starting with a few Seoul Metropolitan areas. However, due to government regulations, flying air taxis is troublesome in Yongsan District. Thus, their goal is to start the commercial use of air taxis for tourism, first from Jeju island to other tourist spots.
In other significant areas of Seoul, South Korea, the plan is to build around ten terminals for the air mobile that would connect all local bus stations and subways by the end of the decade.
Will Planar become a successful Commercial Air Taxi?
The goal for aerospace technology is to find a way to minimize the traffic with an increasing population, which is expected to increase from 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050.
Where the features of the technology are advanced, it cannot be denied that the competitors are exceptionally tough. There is not much information about the technology except for its speed, passenger capacity and physical features.
Although the speed at which Plana Aero’s ‘air taxi’ flies is faster than others, we have yet to see some other aspects of the technology that are not revealed, the fare being one of the most critical aspects of its success in commercial use. What are your thoughts about this new technology developed by a South Korean Company?