Advanced Air Mobility Interviews

AEROFUGIA: GEELY’s Move From Electric Cars To Electric Flying Cars

AEROFUGIA: GEELY’s Move From Electric Cars To Electric Flying Cars

Founded in 2020, AEROFUGIA is a subsidiary of Geely Technology Group. The company focuses on low-altitude solutions including UAVs and passenger eVTOLs. In 2021, AEROFUGIA formed a joint venture with Volocopter.

What is the role of AEROFUGIA in Geely Technology Group’s aviation strategy? 

Geely Technology Group’s low-altitude division focuses on the urban air travel business, as well as laying out related industrial applications to form a complete system comprised of general aviation aircraft and UAV R&D, design, manufacturing, and joint service operations. AEROFUGIA is a technology company that makes low altitude travel, consumer drones, and provides smart solutions for various industries.

What is AEROFUGIA’s product strategy and what kind of users are you targeting?

We are dedicated to delivering intelligent low-altitude commercial operations. Our focus is on the technological development of a new generation of low-altitude aircraft, which includes new energy solutions, vertical take-off and landing, and smart swarm flight controlling. We are developing two major markets: low-altitude logistics, and air travel. As for low-altitude logistics, AEROFUGIA expects that its low-altitude logistics initiatives will lead to faster distribution than traditional ground logistics. Low-altitude logistics can realize much higher efficiency through point-to-point logistics that cover sub-regional areas (within 500 km). In terms of low-altitude travel, AEROFUGIA plans to provide fast air travel services within city clusters with four to five times greater time and cost efficiency, and create a one-hour travel circle covering city clusters.

For the above-mentioned scenarios, AEROFUGIA will, on the one hand, sell aircraft to low-altitude travel/logistics operators and provide continuous airworthiness support; on the other hand, it will maintain and help operators with their service provisions to their end customers.

In terms of products, in August 2022, AEROFUGIA will launch an independently developed pure electric five-seat eVTOL, the TF-2.

What will be the design highlights of the TF-2?

The core highlights of the TF-2 will be:

  • Pure electric power, with zero emissions;
  • No runway required as it is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft, flexible deployment can be applied in various scenarios;
  • Low noise, and support for large-scale urban operations;
  • Intelligent solutions with the ability to automate task planning, recommend actions, and full fly-by-wire flying assistance capabilities;
  • Cost-effectiveness, carrying one pilot and four passengers in a comfortable cabin at low cost;
  • Full airworthiness and high safety standards, with a 10-9/h class safety index1 and a Development Assurance Level A (DAL-A)2.

The TF-2 adopts the upper single wing distributed tilt power design. What are the advantages of this type of configuration compared to other designs? 

Firstly, compared to multi-rotor or lift-propulsion composite configuration eVTOLs, the tilt power form does not carry “dead weight” (multiple motors, electric regulators, propellers, etc.), This gives the aircraft longer range, whilst shorter flights can benefit from higher speeds and lower fuel consumption.

In addition, thanks to the technological advantages of distributed electric propulsion (DEP) systems, the reliability and safety problems of the traditional tilting mechanisms can be overcome by dissimilar redundancy3 design, thus ensuring the safe, reliable and efficient operation of the aircraft.

Secondly, with the upper single wing, the rotor can be placed high to fully ensure safe access to the cabin for the pilot, maintenance personnel and passengers, whilst allowing the aircraft to be deployed in different types of environments. The aircraft can take-off and land in simple conditions, such as dirt, grassland and river banks, without necessarily requiring a hard runway or a dedicated helicopter landing platform. It also provides sufficient access and space for large items of cargo.

What is the progress and plan of the TF-2’s development and airworthiness certification?

Currently, the airworthiness certification of the TF-2 is progressing steadily as planned. We expect to complete the submission of the airworthiness certification and the required test flights before the end 2022. After the first flight, the system design assurance review, approval of the certification plan, compliance verification method, prototype development, and continuous test flights will be carried out. At the same time, our Wuhan plant will simultaneously build the production quality system and manufacturing conformity review work. After obtaining the type certificate, the aircraft is expected to be put into service in various scenarios gradually in 2025~2026.

In what way does AEROFUGIA plan to operate the passenger aircraft?

In addition to our own innovations with the TF-2 eVTOL, we are also actively collaborating with several international organizations, and established a joint venture in September 2021 called Volocopter (Chengdu) Technology Company, with Volocopter, a global leader in advanced air mobility (AAM). With a goal of providing joint operations and services, Volocopter (Chengdu) will provide product service and after-sales guarantees for both AEROFUGIA and Volocopter aircraft. AEROFUGIA and Volocopter will jointly promote the airworthiness certifications of both company’s products, and actively cooperate with partners in infrastructure construction, ground operations, and air traffic management.

Oriented to the travel needs of end users, AEROFUGIA will actively engage with travel service providers to integrate with safe and efficient low-altitude air travel to deliver complete multimodal solutions for the public. Thanks to the flexibility, cost-effectiveness and environmentally friendly characteristics of eVTOL aircraft, AEROFUGIA ‘s travel services will be considered  environmentally friendly, convenient, and economical, making low-altitude travel accessible to the general public.

In which cities will Volocopter (Chengdu), your JV with Volocopter, start operations in China?

No specific cities or city clusters have been identified yet. However, we have very good communication and collaborations with local governments and strategic partners in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Yangtze River Delta city cluster, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster, the Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster, and the middle reaches of the Yangtze River city cluster. When the time comes, we will actively promote the rapid implementation in as many regions as possible.

1. This classification means the likelihood of an accident occurring is extremely improbable, as the probability is once in every 100 million hours.

2. It is the level of design assurance that can be applied to airborne software and hardware and an A level is the highest one. The level is measured by examining the effects of a failure condition in the system.

3. Dissimilar redundancy means using different types of each component for the same purpose with the expectation that different things are unlikely to contain identical flaws.