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TriFan 600 near flight tests

Dal Kikin
March 26, 2019

XTI aircraft is completing ground runs and system checks of a 65%-scale proof-of-concept prototype of its TriFan 600 ducted-fan vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) business plane before first flight in the next few weeks. 

The Colorado-based startup expects to conduct a critical design review and assembly of the full-scale test plane over the next year, with a further two test airframes joining the program in the following year. The company is targeting certification and initial production starting around 2023.

We have completely re-architected the propulsion system and made some significant changes to the air vehicle design,” says CEO Bob LaBelle. “We’ve moved the horizontal tail up, and it is now a T-tail. There was some obstruction of the airflow across the back tail. We also added winglets to increase the wing area and give it a bit better cruise performance.

The TriFan 600 will have the speed, range, and comfort of a business turboprop while having the ability to take off and land vertically, XTI said. The TriFan 600 will have a 1,000 shp turboshaft engine driving three generators that power dual 250-kW motors on each of two 6-ft.-dia. wing-mounted ducted, pivoting fans and a counter-rotating, 5-ft.-dia. fan mounted in the aft fuselage. Range at 300 knots expects to be up to 1,200 miles.

XTI has taken reservations for 76 aircraft and envisages a market for around 2,000 TriFans for a variety of missions ranging from business and commuter roles to emergency medical services and military utility.

Using three ducted fans, the TriFan 600 lifts off vertically and in seconds, the two wing fans rotate forward for a seamless transition to high-speed flight. Within 90 seconds, the plane reaches cruise speed – where the lift is provided by the wings like every other fixed-wing plane. The fuselage-mounted fan, no longer needed, closes up. The aircraft fly directly to its destination and reverses the process. Landing vertically right where it needs to be wherever there’s a clear helipad-sized paved surface.

Stepping aboard, everybody can find cabin comfort, satisfying the most discerning needs. Perfectly shaped modern luxury with its spacious interior adorned with elegant surfaces and intelligent high-tech features.