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See today's air taxis and other VTOL aircraft

The Transformative Vertical Flight conference in Silicon Valley in January hosted a collection of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Here's a look.

Stephen Shankland
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Stephen Shankland
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1 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Airbus Vahana EVTOL

The Airbus Vahana, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) aircraft, first flew in 2018. It carries a single passenger up to about 30 miles at a speed of about 115 mph. Its wings are oriented vertically during takeoff and landing but pivot to horizontal during flight.

Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL
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Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL

The Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 is a single-passenger EVTOL air taxi designed to transport a passenger 60 to 100 miles in less than an hour. It can reach top speed in 20 to 30 seconds. This model is the company's 13th prototype. The unusual design employs eight propellers, two on smaller forward wings and six on a pair of larger, centrally mounted forward-swept wings.

Transcend Air Vy 400
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Transcend Air Vy 400

Transcend Air's Vy 400, shown here in a fifth-scale prototype form, is designed to shuttle people from city to city at an altitude of 18,000 feet to 20,000 feet starting in 2024.

Transcend Air Vy 400 tail rotor
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Transcend Air Vy 400 tail rotor

The Transcend Air Vy 400 has a horizontal tail rotor with variable-pitch blades to keep the aircraft level as it ascends and descends.

Elroy Air's Chaparral EVTOL
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Elroy Air's Chaparral VTOL

Elroy Air's Chaparral VTOL is an autonomous aircraft designed to carry cargo, not passengers. It's got a 300-mile range and can carry up to 500 pounds in detachable pods mounted to its underside. The company's goal is to speed up logistics so companies can offer same-day shipping all over the world. Here, CEO David Merrill introduces the machine at its debut.

Jaunt Air Mobility's Jaunt Journey
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Jaunt Air Mobility's Jaunt Journey

Jaunt Air Mobility's electric VTOL, Jaunt Journey, combines a fixed-wing airplane wings with a helicopter's rotors. It's designed to carry four passengers 80 to 120 miles at a top speed of 175 mph starting in 2026.

Tier 1 Engineering electric helicopter
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Tier 1 Engineering electric helicopter

Tier 1 Engineering has refit a Robinson R44 Raven II to create an electric helicopter. The design is about 20% quieter, and the goal is for a one-hour flight time.

Tier 1 Engineering electric helicopter motor and battery
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Tier 1 Engineering electric helicopter motor and battery

Tier 1 Engineering uses an existing helicopter body but swaps out its conventional engine with an electric motor, shown here at the upper left, and a battery mounted underneath the aircraft's belly in the section with the company logo.

Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 tilting propellers
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Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 tilting propellers

Some VTOL aircraft tilt the entire wing from vertical to horizontal, but the Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 only pivots its eight propellers.

Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL
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Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL

The Air Force Research Laboratory in 2021 certified the Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 to be airworthy. Startup Kittyhawk has tested it for use in medical evacuations.

Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL cockpit
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Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 EVTOL cockpit

The Kittyhawk Heaviside 2 is a flying taxi designed to shuttle a single person who needn't know anything more about flying than a regular taxi passenger needs to know about driving cars.

Opener BlackFly EVTOL
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Opener BlackFly EVTOL

The Opener BlackFly, shown here in the Hiller Aviation Museum, is a eight-propeller EVTOL that first flew in 2011. Unlike many EVTOLs, its wings and propellers don't pivot. Instead, the aircraft's body shifts from a reclined orientation to a more upright orientation as it takes off and flies. This model has a 40-mile range and 80 mph top speed.

Kittyhawk Flyer EVTOL
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Kittyhawk Flyer EVTOL

The Kittyhawk Flyer, a single-passenger EVTOL with a 200-pound capacity, can take off on land or water. It's got 10 propellers, a 6-mile range, and 30 mph top speed. Kittyhawk stopped developing the model in 2020.

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Airbus Vahana EVTOL

The best days of Airbus's Vahana EVTOL are behind it as the aerospace giant completed its experimental work and moved on to newer designs.

Airbus Vahana EVTOL
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Airbus Vahana EVTOL

The Airbus Vahana EVTOL is an experimental aircraft with some autonomous capabilities to avoid obstacles in the air or on the ground.

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