While eVTOL aircraft developers are promising urban upwardly mobile folks an escape from gridlocked city roads, Ryse Aero Technologies is more concerned with how it can help the agricultural community. The U.S. start-up is working on a single-seat eVTOL vehicle that could be operated by farmers, winemakers, or park rangers with minimal training under the FAA’s Part 103 rules covering ultralight recreational aircraft that do not require type certification.
Ryse, which was founded just last year, is preparing to make a first piloted flight with its Recon aircraft, building on uncrewed sorties conducted so far. The company’s objective is to have the vehicle—which features six independent lift-and-cruise propulsion systems—in production as early as the first quarter of 2023.
Ryse plans to start operational trials around the end of September with five production aircraft that will be evaluated by several prospective customers, including farmers and ranchers in Colorado, California, Oregon, Michigan, Virginia, and Kentucky. The all-electric aircraft, which is expected to have a range of 25 miles and a Part 103-compliant top speed of 63 mph, could be used for tasks such as inspecting crops and rounding up livestock.
According to Ryse president and CEO Mick Kowitz, complete newcomers to flight will be able to learn how to operate the vehicle with minimal training. A tablet PC in the cockpit connected to the flight controls will provide a simple operator interface and also be used as a training platform, giving users instruction based on previous flights.
“This flies like a John Deere with just one stick,” Kowitz told FutureFlight, referring to agricultural and all-terrain vehicles commonly used by his intended customer base. He feels the adoption of self-piloted light eVTOL aircraft that could operate from land or water could prove more popular with farmers than drones, which he claimed are limited in performance and somewhat counterintuitive to operate.