ARC Aerosystems launched in 2017 with plans to develop a family of electrically powered, ducted fan aircraft, starting with a UAV (the UAV Starling) and also including a light eVTOL aircraft (e-Starling) and a business jet (Starling Jet). When the company was launched in 2017, the plan called for the UAV to enter service in 2019, followed by the e-Starling in 2022 and the Starling Jet in 2024.
However, in November 2019, founder and CEO Dr. Seyed Mohseni told FutureFlight that these timelines have slipped back to accommodate the need to raise a further $60 million funds and changes to the business plan. The UAV Starling project now appears to be sidelined. Instead, work has now begun on a smaller two-seat version of the e-Starling that will be called the Q-Starling (formerly known as the Q22). In early September 2020, ARC was preparing to fly a 50 percent scale model of the e-Starling, having earlier flown 10 and 20 percent scale models.
The plan now calls for a full-scale prototype of the six-seat e-Starling to make a first flight in 2023, en route to achieving type certification and first deliveries by the end of 2025. The e-Starling is intended mainly for personal and business transportation use, with range to allow for city-to-city flights.
As of September 2020, ARC had suspended work on its planned 10-seat Starling Jet and also the two-seat Home & Urban Mobility Aircraft (HUMA). The HUMA is a fundamentally different design from the e-Starling and is intended specifically for air taxi urban air mobility applications. The design features counter-rotating rotors that tilt forward for horizontal cruise mode. The wing and the cabin can also turn 90 degrees. Samad anticipates that the purchase price for HUMA could be around $250,000.
ARC intends for all its planned models to be all-electric aircraft. However, acknowledging that current battery technology does not support the longer-range it has in mind, the company intends to bring the models into production with a hybrid-electric powerplant. This would be based around an as-yet-unspecified diesel motor. The company believes operators would be able to land at gas stations to refuel. At the same time, it is considering hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to electric batteries.
In September 2020, Mohseni told FutureFlight that he was close to signing one or more memorandums of understanding with prospective investors as he seeks to raise up to around $80 million to complete the e-Starling and Q-Starling programs. He indicated that he intends to partner with a medium-sized aerospace manufacturer to allow them to focus on the Q-Starling and to allow his team to focus on the e-Starling. He also suggested that the company may relocate some development activities to another lower-cost country, in part in reaction to not receiving what Mohseni considers to be appropriate levels of financial support from UK authorities.
In November 2020, ARC achieved a first flight with a half-sized model of the e-Starling operating in conventional takeoff and landing mode. The company said that it expects to be ready to start vertical takeoff and landing test flights by the end of April 2021. As of mid-March 2021, the company was assembling what it says is the second airframe for this half-scale prototype.
News source: futureflight
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