Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup will fly Butterfly experimental prototype in 2023, with plans to provide practical aerial ridesharing.
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Today, electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL) company, Overair, announced its most recent funding of $145 million from Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace, global leaders in ultra-precision communications and aircraft technologies. With this new investment, Overair remains on track to fly its all-electric experimental prototype in the second half of 2023.
Hanwha’s continued investment in Overair not only fuels the ongoing development of Butterfly but will also allow Overair to lay the groundwork for commercializing their mobility technology. In addition to their investment, Hanwha will also provide electric motors and battery packs for Overair’s prototypes, as the two companies expand their R&D co-operation.
“This is a tremendous milestone for our growing team, and we’re extremely well positioned to deliver sustainable aerial ridesharing to the world through the development of Butterfly,” said Ben Tigner, Co-Founder and CEO of Overair. “We’re exactly where we want to be, building a superior aircraft company with class leading mobility technology around an unrivaled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year. We’ve proven Butterfly’s propulsion system, so we’ll now begin validating Butterfly’s ability to operate safely in real-world weather conditions, carry significant payloads, and fly incredibly quietly.”
Butterfly is an all-electric aircraft with six seats designed to take off and land vertically. The aircraft’s advanced propulsion system is derived from decades of military VTOL programs led by Abe Karem. Thanks to this legacy of proprietary engineering, Butterfly’s propulsion is extremely efficient and will give Butterfly the broadest flight envelope and smallest sound footprint of any aircraft in the burgeoning industry. Specifically, Butterfly’s unique Optimum Speed Propulsion (OSP) uses four large propellers, which spin slowly when hovering and even slower when cruising, and draw only a fraction of the available motor power, giving Butterfly extra payload capacity and power margins to operate safely in challenging environmental conditions. Additionally, the slow-turning props produce extraordinarily little sound, which will allow Butterfly to operate in high-density areas with noise sensitive communities.
“Hanwha’s basic principles for new business development is to focus on ‘Disruptive Innovation’ that can uproot and shift the market and technology trends based on its core capabilities. In alignment with its core capabilities as well as its main businesses, Hanwha is selecting ‘Game Changer’ businesses that it can really excel in the future, and eVTOL vehicle is one of the ‘Game changer,'” said Mr. Sungchul Eoh, CEO of Hanwha Systems. “With regard to our investment decision in Overair, we assessed that the company had the numerous patients and core technologies required to develop highly efficient, low noise vehicle. Therefore, we expected that Overair would be capable of developing superb vehicle that can satisfy the requirements for safety, efficiency, speed, low noise, and environment-friendly feature. We see the potential of Overair’s Optimum Speed Propulsion system and we will continue to work together to find synergies and bring this breakthrough technology to the world.”
As the company continues to work toward FAA certification, Overair is also working with NASA and Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles to develop urban air mobility (UAM) routing and infrastructure.
Overair is positioned to be a global leader in advanced air mobility. Spun out of Karem Aircraft in 2020, the Santa Ana, CA based company announced the design of its vehicle, Butterfly, in 2021. Butterfly is a breakthrough electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Butterfly’s proprietary technologies, derived from the Overair team’s decades of aerospace experience, create critical power reserves using today’s commercially available battery cells, which translate into advances in safety and a superior experience for passengers and communities. With eVTOL adoption revolutionizing urban mobility, Butterfly is positioned to set the bar on real-world dependability, with best-in-class payload, sound emissions and weather capability. Overair has operating partnerships with companies such as Hanwha Systems and Bristow Group, and the team completed its full-scale propulsion testing in the first quarter of 2022.
About Hanwha Aerospace
Hanwha Aerospace is the only aircraft engine manufacturer in South Korea, which holds the trust in the global market based on our unrivaled technology. Hanwha Aerospace is a company founded based on the aircraft engine and film camera businesses in 1977. Since then, we have built the top position in the precision machinery field in Korea and expanded our business based on the foundational technology in optics, video, and aircraft engine areas. Now, we have also entered the space business, including aircraft engine and machinery businesses. We have owned the global top-tier source and application technologies as well throughout the entire business area and rapidly responded to the market needs. Furthermore, we entered the satellite business in 2021 through the acquisition of Satrec Initiative, a domestic satellite specialist. As a key company behind ‘Space Hub,’ Hanwha’s foray into the space industry, we will actively promote research and development (R&D) investment and talent recruitment across space-related businesses. Hanwha Aerospace will preemptively respond to the rapidly changing market environment and leap forward to become the global No. 1 partner in the aviation industry with ongoing technical development and expansion of quality competitiveness. Embracing the promise of the New Space Age, we will continue our efforts to establish the space industry value chain, including launch vehicle engines, while providing total solutions for the industry.
About Hanwha Systems
Hanwha Systems provides differentiated smart technologies in defense electronics and ICT fields. Since its founding in 1977, the Hanwha Systems defense division has proven the efficacy of its weapons and has been credited for significantly advancing the defense capabilities of South Korea’s military. The company has consolidated its unrivaled position in the defense industry by securing advanced defense technology and system integration capabilities through a merger with an IT company in August 2018. As a defense company that fulfills important missions in national security, Hanwha Systems continuously expands its business areas under the vision of becoming a “global defense electronics and ICT smart solution provider.” In addition, by combining advanced defense technology and ICT technology capabilities developed through defense electronics and ICT businesses, we provide customized solutions in various business areas such as urban air mobility (UAM) and low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications, and future smart ICT, helping our customers build the foundation for sustainable growth.