Yorba Linda-based Otto Aviation has just revealed the Celera 500L six-passenger aircraft to the world. The manufacturers claim that the revolutionary bullet-shaped plane can fly at a jet’s speed with eight times more significant fuel savings. It can also fly twice the distance of a comparably sized aircraft.
Founded in Orange County, California, in 2008, Otto Aviation is an offshoot of Bill Otto’s Otto Laboratories. The aviation company claims that the plane can fly between 18 to 25 miles on a gallon of fuel compared to two to three miles in a similarly sized jet.
Owners of the Celera 500L will be able to fly the rear-engined plane for an operating cost of $328 per hour. This number is around six times lower than similar-sized aircraft. The Celera 500L also has a very generous 4,500 nautical mile range and can cruise at more than 460 miles per hour.
Development began before 2017
The new plane’s story began before 2017, and by June 2019, it had already started its taxi tests. According to Otto Aviation, the aircraft has completed its first rounds of funding, and that to date, 31 test flights have been made. While this all sounds promising, the start-up needs to begin the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process, find a facility to build the type, and hopefully fill the order books.
When speaking with CNN about the plane company CEO Bill Otto Jr. said:
“Our goal has always been to create a safe and private aircraft that would allow for direct flights in the US at speeds and cost comparable to commercial air travel,” Otto said, as reported by CNN.
“We believe the Celera 500L is the biggest thing to happen to both the aviation and travel industries in 50 years,” he continued. “Beyond using our aircraft for passenger travel, it can also be used for cargo operations and military applications. Since the results from our prototype test flights have been so promising, we’re ready to bring the Celera 500L to market.”
Because of its fantastic range, nearly all perceivable city pairings in the United States would be possible without refueling. According to Otto, the reason that the plane has the coverage it does and the impressive fuel consumption is because of its laminar flow.
What is laminar flow?
Regarding aircraft design, laminar flow can be described as the smooth, uninterrupted flow of air over the wings and other parts of the aircraft while in flight. Turbulence is created when the smooth flow of air is interrupted over the aircraft’s wing, creating a loss of lift while adding drag.
If we take a look at the Celera 500L’s fuselage, we can see that it takes advantage of the width to length ratio to maximize laminar flow. The same laminar characteristics are also used in the wing and tail sections of the plane.
Windows will have no impact on laminar flow
You will notice there are no passenger windows on the prototype. However, Otto assured CNN that it would feature windows in the production plane.
“The windows will not have an impact on laminar flow, as they are mounted flush and have the same contours as the exterior shape of the fuselage,” otto explained to CNN.
The fuselage will also offer six foot two inches of headroom (1.88 meters) and be spacious enough to accommodate six first class-type seats.
The Celera 500L engine
Power for the Celera 500L will be provided by a liquid-cooled V12 twin six-cylinder German-built RED A03 engine that offers the best-in-class efficiency. The rear-mounted engine is also certified to operate using both Jet A1 and biodiesel. Currently, the engine is the power source for the Russian Air Force Yakovlev Yak-152 primary trainer and is slated for a host of other aircraft, including the Celera 500L.
Interestingly Otto Aviation has gone for a pusher configured power unit rather than the more traditional tractor configuration. Many early aircraft, including the Wright Brothers Flyer, had a pusher propeller that remained dominant until WWI. In recent years we have seen a revival in pusher configurations mostly put down to the popularity of ultralights and crewless aerial vehicles like the UCAV General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper.
Is now a good time to build a new plane?
Otto Aviation could not have picked a worse time to develop and sell a new aircraft. Otto pointed out that COVID-19 could be a positive selling point when speaking about the company’s prospects with CNN.
“Launching amid the current aviation landscape has only bolstered what we aim to provide with the Celera 500L. We believe that when the price of private air travel is competitive with commercial air travel, an enormous market opportunity will result.”
If an airline or private air taxi company could provide tickets at prices comparable to what traditional airlines charge, it could very well catch on with consumers not wanting to be on a plane with too many other people.
“Of course, we didn’t anticipate COVID-19, but there are enhanced market opportunities in being able to afford to fly with only those you choose to. Being able to avoid crowded airports and lines is another big benefit,” Otto said.
“In many cases, individuals and families will be able to charter the Celera 500L at prices comparable to commercial airfares, but with the convenience of private aviation.”
One of the big winners to come out of the current coronavirus pandemic is E-commerce, with companies eager to get their merchandise to customers as fast as possible. The Celera 500L could help facilitate the service by flying cargo in and out of small regional airports.
Otto Aviation has plans for a larger plane
The California planemaker also has plans for a larger version of the Celera 500L by scaling it up 20% and calling it the Celera 1000L. By doing this, it will be able to increase the number of passengers and freight.
If certification from the Federal Aviation Administration goes to plan and that they can secure a facility to build the aircraft, we could see the first deliveries start to arrive sometime in 2025.
What do you think of the Celera 500L? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.