Indonesian electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) developer Vela sees big regional and international opportunities for its developmental aircraft design.

Backed by an unnamed Indonesian company, the company is headquartered in Jakarta and has an engineering office in Bandung, the Javanese city that is also home to Indonesian Aerospace.

Vela Alpha eVTOL

Source: Vela

Alpha’s design is basically fixed, but wind tunnel tests could see modifications to the tail

Speaking with FlightGlobal at last week’s Singapore air show, Vela’s director of programme and operations Kevin Phang says the company, which started in 2020, employs 63 engineers.

A model of its Alpha ‘lift and cruise’ eVTOL design is undergoing wind tunnel tests at Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency, with isolated propeller testing pending.

The Alpha features eight electric motors for vertical lift and a single pusher-propeller for forward flight – similar to Eve’s eVTOL design. The design is essentially fixed, although the wind tunnel work could see tweaks to the tail.

“We wanted a simple yet proven configuration when compared with a tiltrotor,” says Phang.

“We idenfitied a lot of challenges when developing the tilting configuration, especially when we’re trying to develop the control laws as well.”

Alpha will come with two power options: fully electric and hybrid. Both variants will have a cruising speed of 135kts (250km/h). The hybrid power variant, which is seen as operating between cities, will have a range of 270nm (500km), while the fully electric variant will have a range of 54nm.

In an economy configuration Alpha will carry one pilot and six passengers, while in a “luxury” configuration it will carry the pilot and two passengers.

The company aims to produce a full-scale flying demonstrator by the end of 2025 to serve as a proof-of-concept, followed by a first prototype for certification by the end of 2027.

Following certification in Indonesia, Vela will seek FAA certification as it sees an opportunity for eVTOL sales in the USA market. The company will start its USA certification campaign at the end of 2024.

Phang adds that certification campaigns by companies such as Joby help set out a path for future eVTOL aspirants such as Vela.

Vela is also looking at production options for Alpha, and is Phang adds that it is eager to work with Indonesian Aerospace given the airframer’s experience producing and certificating aircraft. Indonesian Aerospace and Vela already have a relationship: a model of Alpha was on display in the airframer’s stand at the Singapore air show. 

So far, Vela has received commitments for 120 examples of Alpha, of which 110 are from overseas. Indonesia’s Fly Bali is interested in 10 examples to operate in the sightseeing and transport roles.

Phang adds that numerous applications are envisaged for Alpha, including transport, cargo, surveillance, and medical evacuation.