Chennai, India - The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) incubated electric aircraft startup Ubifly Technologies commonly known as 'The ePlane Company' will test fly e50 prototype airplanes in June this year, said a company founder.
"The manufacturing of the e50 model is on. The plane will be ready by February end. The test flight will be in June. The plane has a load carrying capacity of 50kg and 150-200 km flying range," Pranjal Mehta, Co-Founder told IANS.
The company is building a bigger electric powered cargo and passenger aircraft e200 with a carrying capacity of 200kg.
Mehta also said the company has raised $5-million Pre-Series A funding from a clutch of investors to hire talent, invest further in research and development and others so as to roll out passenger and cargo carriers.
The investment is led by deep-tech venture capitalist Speciale Invest and EV/Climate focussed fund Micelio. A consortium of investors including Naval Ravikant, 3one4 Capital, UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital), Anicut Capital, Infoedge, Prashant Pitti (co-founder of Easemytrip), Thought Ventures, Java Capital, and Firstcheque.vc also participated in the round.
With this round the company has raised a total of $6-million till date.
"We have currently tested a scaled-down prototype and expect to have our first cargo plane ready as early as next year. The cargo carrier is expected to be rolled out by February 2023, the passenger version is expected by December 2024, said Satya Chakravarthy, Co-founder.
Mehta said the planes are designed for a vertical take-off and landing like a helicopter and move forward like a plane. It is a hybrid of a drone and an aircraft.
The company's planes will be powered by lithium ion batteries. The company imports the cells and makes the battery packs.
"We have redundancies built in the design for additional safety. The plane size will be 4x4 metre and is built with carbon fibre. The cargo version will be unmanned while the passenger carrier can carry two persons including the pilot," Mehta said.
While the passenger version is targeted at intra-city travel - expected to be costlier than road taxies by 1.5 times - the cargo version is for delivering goods to rural and remote places.
According to Mehta, the company will be looking at leasing mode for its aircrafts and also automobile manufacturers to make the planes in bigger volumes.