XTI to launch TriFan 600 at NBAA with one third-scale mock-up

XTI Aircraft will formally launch the TriFan 600 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft at the National Business Aviation Association convention and exhibition in October, where it plans to unveil a one-third-scale mock-up of the new design.

"This will be our first public outing at a business aviation event," says XTI chief executive Robert LaBelle of the largest annual industry gathering that will be held from 10-12 October in Las Vegas. "We made a brief appearance at the Paris air show in June with a small model of the TriFan, and got an amazing response. At NBAA we hope to increase awareness of this revolutionary product."

The start-up, based in Denver Colorado, began developing the TriFan in 2013, with the aim of creating an aircraft with business jet-like speed and the take-off and landing performance of a helicopter.

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XTI Aircraft

The six-seat type was originally designed with two Honeywell HTS900 twin-turboshaft engines, gearboxes and driveshafts, but XTI switched to hybrid-electric propulsion and a smaller single turbofan earlier this year in an effort to reduce the TriFan's weight and production costs. It has teamed with US engineering firm Bye Aerospace to develop the new system, which will have a turbine-driven generator, batteries and motor.

Finance for the project is being drawn from XTI founder and chairman David Brody, private equity investors and crowd-funding stakeholders.

LaBelle will not disclose how much XTI has raised so far across its funding initiatives, but he admits the money secured has enabled the company to make "great strides in the engineering effort" and in developing the first flying prototype, which XTI plans to fly in around 12 months. "To make best use of the funding, this will be a 60% scale aircraft," says LaBelle. "A full-scale prototype will enter the flight test programme within two years."

LaBelle calls the TriFan "a major breakthrough in aviation and air travel".

The six-seat type has a projected speed of 300kt (555km/h), a range in VTOL mode of 670nm (1,240km), and 1,200nm in conventional take-off and landing mode.

In June XTI, secured a launch customer for the TriFan following an order for three units from what LaBelle describes as a "globally recognised international operator". The company, which may be umasked at NBAA, intends to use its aircraft for cargo, VIP and utility missions, says LaBelle.