Floridians Can Now Fly This Personal Electric Aircraft Without Pilot Certification

Lift Aircraft has launched pay-per-flight customer experiences with Hexa, its personal electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) manufacturer Pivotal launched U.S. sales of Helix—a personal eVTOL aircraft designed for experienced and first-time flyers alike—in January. But customers in Florida are already flying a different personal eVTOL design.

Lift Aircraft, manufacturer of the single-seat Hexa, on Monday announced the launch of customer eVTOL flights at Lakeland Linder International Airport (KLAL) in Florida. The announcement kicks off the company’s inaugural pay-per-flight U.S. tour, during which it will take its mobile location around the country and introduce customer flights in additional cities.

Lift will serve customers at Lakeland Linder International, the site of the annual Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, through April 28. From April 9-14, the company will perform airshows and offer customer flights at Sun ’n Fun.

It will then relocate to Austin, Texas, for the month of May before expanding to more cities, which will be announced in the near future.

“We’re not just providing entertainment. We’re offering the chance to step into a new era of mobility,” said Matt Chasen, founder and CEO of Lift. “We’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in aviation.”

Lift’s Hexa has already been flown by the likes of CNN’s Anderson Cooper, ABC News’ Rob Marciano, and others with zero or little prior flight experience.

The company will offer customers a two-hour experience comprising ground training and real flights under the guidance of flight instructors. Customers will familiarize themselves with the aircraft and its controls, first on the ground and then in a virtual reality flight simulator. After about an hour, Lift said, they’ll be ready to take to the skies on their own. Flights can be booked via the company’s new mobile app or directly through its website.

Hexa requires no pilot certification to fly. That’s because the aircraft’s 432-pound weight qualifies it as a Part 103 ultralight, a classification confirmed by the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) in 2022.

In lieu of hundreds of hours of flight training, Lift claims beginner training on Hexa’s control system—which consists of a single, three-axis joystick—can wrap up in less than an hour. A redundant autopilot computer aids the pilot during flight, but they can also switch to what Lift calls “Look, mom, no hands!” mode.

The 15-by-15-foot aircraft can carry up to 250 pounds in passenger configuration. It cruises at about 60 knots at up to 9,000 msl, while endurance (10-17 minutes) and range (8-15 sm) depend on payload. Hexa is also durable enough to fly in 20-knot winds, medium rain, and temperatures between 0 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pinwheel-shaped design relies on distributed electric propulsion from 18 independent electric motors and propellers, each with its own battery pack. It can fly and land safely on land or water with up to six motors disabled.

Lift’s Hexa features a unique, pinwheel-shaped design. [Courtesy: Lift Aircraft]

Lift opened Hexa sales to U.S. public safety agencies in December, offering a total of five aircraft to law enforcement, first responders, medical providers, and other customers. The aircraft will be deployed for firefighting, police, medical, search and rescue, emergency, and disaster response applications under FAA public aircraft operations rules.

The U.S. Air Force is another early Hexa customer. Lift has earned five contracts from AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force, to develop the design and train Air Force personnel to fly it. Airmen made the first remote flight of Hexa in 2022 at Eglin Air Force Base’s Duke Field (KEGI) in Florida.

Customers in Florida and Texas will be the next to take Hexa for a spin, and those in New York City could soon follow. In 2022, Lift signed a tentative agreement with Charm Aviation, one of the East Coast’s largest helicopter tour operators, to bring Hexa to downtown Manhattan. It intends to install vertiports along the city’s waterfront, providing access to a Class G VFR corridor that extends up to 1,300 feet agl.

To commercialize Hexa in Japan, Lift intends to partner with Marubeni Corp. Marubeni could preorder as many as 100 aircraft, which are already making public demonstrations in the country.

Lift also offers a limited number of Founder’s Series Hexa aircraft that customers can purchase and own outright. Eight of 10 models have been sold for $495,000, and customers can sell the aircraft back to the company for full price at the end of a five-year term. The program intends for owners to launch Hexa in their respective cities, helping to commercialize Lift’s pay-per-flight offering.

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