A novel hybrid-electric aircraft to be tested in Estonia


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Estonia is recognised as a regional mobility hub for the TriFan 600, the world’s first civilian hybrid-electric long-range vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) airplane; the agreement was signed by the plane’s manufacturer, the US-based XTI Aircraft Company with Enterprise Estonia, the Estonian Aviation Cluster and the Estonian Aviation Academy.

The Estonian organisations also intend to collaborate with XTI Aircraft Company to establish a corporate presence in Tallinn, to directly serve the region.

“Given Estonia’s track record of being at the forefront of technology innovation, we intend to foster this relationship to deliver maximum results for both parties that includes long range mobility utilising clean aviation technology, while expanding the country’s aerospace centers of excellence,” Robert LaBelle, the CEO of XTI Aircraft Company, said in a statement.

The partners said Estonia could “revolutionise regional connectivity” by connecting hundreds of active airports and 100 million people inside a circle of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) by using advanced air mobility solutions such as the TriFan 600. Image by XTI Aircraft.

The partners said Estonia could “revolutionise regional connectivity” by connecting hundreds of active airports and 100 million people inside a circle of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) by using advanced air mobility solutions such as the TriFan 600. “Estonia intends to become one of Europe’s climate neutral aviation spots with all regional domestic flights becoming net carbon emission-free by 2030.”

Lifting off vertically like a helicopter

The XTI TriFan 600 is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft currently under development by XTI Aircraft, a Denver, Colorado-based privately owned company.

The XTI TriFan 600 is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Image by XTI Aircraft.

According to the company, the TriFan 600 will cruise at a speed of up to 555 km/h (345 mph) and will have a range comparable to the average business aircraft, but with “a door-to-door convenience” – since it takes off and lands like a helicopter.

Using three ducted fans, the TriFan lifts off vertically and its two ducted fans in the wings then rotate to enable the aircraft to transition from hover to forward flight and back again for landing.

The XTI TriFan 600. Image by XTI Aircraft.

The plane’s vertical take-off and landing range is 1,240 kilometres (770 miles) and conventional takeoff and landing range 2,200 kilometres (1,300 miles). The plane will seat a pilot and five passengers.

XTI said the TriFan 600 will have “40% lower CO2 emissions, 50% lower operating costs, and up to 50% lower noise”, compared with similar aircraft or helicopters. “In contrast to the helicopter, the TriFan 600 – like the average business airplane – will fly above the weather and turbulence, and will be much quieter, smoother, and more comfortable than a helicopter,” the company said.

The TriFan 600 will seat a pilot and five passengers. Image by XTI Aircraft.

Using existing technologies

The manufacturer said it was using existing technologies to build the aircraft – including composite material, off-the-shelf motors, batteries, generators, a turbine engine and ducted fans.

The aircraft company has already assembled a flight test team but has not yet received a certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The XTI TriFan 600. Image by XTI Aircraft.

The Estonian Aviation Cluster is a private NGO, established in 2019. The Estonian Aviation Academy is a higher education institution that educates and trains specialists for aviation enterprises as well as providing research and development services. Enterprise Estonia is a government agency that helps attract foreign investors to the country.

Cover: The XTI TriFan 600 imagined flying above the Old Town of Tallinn. Images by XTI Aircraft.

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