Hanwha Systems announced on Dec.8 that its $25 million investment in US-based air taxi startup Overair has got final approval from authorities.
The two companies plan to jointly develop personalized aerial vehicles following the US Committee on Foreign Investment’s greenlight.
Overair, previously K4 Aeronautics, is a spinoff of Karem Aircraft -- which manufactures aerial vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing. It is one of the core partners of the Uber Elevate project for commercial flying taxis.
With the investment, the South Korean firm is set to participate in Overair’s project to develop a passenger air vehicle named Butterfly.
Hanwha Systems CEO Kim Youn-chul said the company is financially ready to enter the flying taxi market following its recent initial public offering.
“We will actively forge global partnerships to foster the air taxi business as our future growth engine,” he said.
Butterfly is an electric powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with an optimum speed tilt rotor technology. It makes minimal noise, is safe and green, and therefore an optimal mobility service for an urban environment, the company said.
Butterfly can fly at a speed of over 240 kilometers per hour, and travel for over 100 kilometers. Including the pilot, a total of five persons can be accommodated onboard.
Karem Aircraft’s founder and Overair’s co-founder Abraham Karem is the chief developer of Butterfly.
Airborne transportation is hoped to resolve road traffic issues, and offer an environmentally friendly alternative to the existing mobility options.
From Korea, Hanwha Systems along with Hyundai Motor and KAI Korea Aerospace Industries are a few companies participating in an optionally piloted PAV project driven by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy since early this year.
US-based Boeing and Chinese firm EHang are a few other companies that are also testing the market.
Industry watchers forecast the air taxi business will take flight in 2023 starting in the US for a full-fledged commercial takeoff in 2025.
By Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)