XTI TriFan 600 Scale Prototype Completes First Flights

A 65 percent-scale version of the VTOL aircraft hovered about a foot off the ground in first flight trials.

XTI TriFan 600 scale prototype
The XTI TriFan 600 scale prototype hovered about a foot off the ground in recent tethered tests.Courtesy XTI Aircraft

What is being billed as a 65 percent-scale prototype of the XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 VTOL aircraft completed its first test flights as the company says it “continues its progress on its long-range commercial vertical takeoff airplane.”

XTI said the TriFan 600 prototype “completed multiple takeoffs, hover and landings, which tested and validated the electric motors, battery power system, ducted fan propulsion, flight controls, other electrical systems and instrumentation” at Placerville Airport in northern California earlier this month.

Video of the milestone showed the aircraft on a short tether during the tests as it hovered about a foot off the ground. Future flights at a certified UAV test facility will be untethered in hover and will also test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes, XTI Aircraft said.

“This is the moment the entire XTI team, our investors, customers, and many others have been waiting for and working toward,” said XTI Chief Executive Officer Robert LaBelle. “In one year, we have progressed from conceptual design to a flying prototype. The aircraft proved to be stable in hover and had no problems throughout several runs.”

XTI did not divulge the weight of the prototype, nor did the company describe the propulsion system used by the prototype during these early tests.

The company says work will begin within a year on building the first full-scale prototype, which it plans to fly at the end of 2020.

XTI has booked “early reservations” for 77 aircraft from customers on six continents, “representing $500 million of future revenue,” the company said.