Nova Minerals’ (ASX: NVA) Arizona-based investee company Rotor X Aircraft has entered the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi market with the development of what is claimed to be the world’s most efficient helicopter.
Known as the RX eTransporter, the patent-pending aircraft is the first of its kind for civilian and industrial use and believed to be less expensive than other eVTOL concepts currently in development.
The technology at the heart of the innovation has been in development for over a decade and Rotor X design partner Advanced Tactics Inc has completed multiple heavy lift multi-rotor prototypes.
Smaller wing for natural lift
The RX eTransporter relies on a smaller wing to enhance its natural lift and does not employ a tail rotor, allowing it to take off and land vertically, and fly for over 1.5 hours or hover for 45 minutes.
This compares to typical eVTOL air taxi aircraft which use small propellers for vertical lifting; have technically-advanced and expensive geometries; complex engine drive-systems and tilt-mechanisms; inefficient wings; and limited payload capacity even with carbon fibre construction.
Conventional helicopters also have a larger wing to make them more efficient after takeoff and can only hover for a few minutes before needing to land.
At a maximum cruise speed of 255km per hour and utilising its wing for energy conservation, the RX eTransporter can fly over 320km on one charge, with capacity for an additional 80km of range on military missions.
Design-wise, it boasts ample leg room and charter jet-type interiors for one crew member and up to five passengers.
The open interior version is suited to air taxi operations, package deliveries, search and rescue, personnel recovery and medical evacuation (medivac) operations.
Commercial testing of the RX eTransporter will be carried out in Alaska as an experimental aircraft during the coming northern summer.
Local mining companies are believed to have shown strong interest in purchasing or leasing the aircraft for the transport of mining equipment in the rugged Alaska Range terrain.
“The heavy-lift RX eTransporter can carry over a tonne of cargo [and] would be a game changer for the mining industry,” Rotor X said.
“That capability [could] support essential tasks like fuel and spare parts delivery, rig transportation, dust control and core sample transport, and would improve productivity and operational safety while lowering logistics costs by a third.”
Nova Minerals has a 9.9% shareholding in Rotor X and said it would employ the new helicopters at its flagship Estelle gold project, in Alaska’s prolific Tintina gold belt, to achieve its objectives on the path to production.