This month, pioneering aviation company Jetson announced the successful closure of a $15 million Seed round. The company makes the Jetson ONE, a first-of-its-kind commercially available eVTOL that you can own and fly for short point-to-point flights.
What's an eVTOL again?
Under this category, flights are limited to daylight hours, in uncontrolled airspace (Class G, which is generally up to 700 ground level), and not over congested areas or major airports. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has a comparable framework
I spoke to Angel investor and Board Advisor Rikard Steiber, who discovered the company when it appeared on the Stephen Colbert show and decided to help the company expand its efforts to the US.
He explained that the classification means there's no need for a runway for takeoff and landing, and no communication needed with air traffic control.
Think of a low-flying aircraft you can fly over coastal forests and desert beaches, and for someone remotely, "this is a fantastic experience."
Furthermore, you don't need a pilot's license. Instead, you are trained by the vendor, in this case, Jetson, who offers a two-day course that includes everything you need to know.
The Jetson ONE eVTOL comprises a race car-inspired lightweight aluminium space frame and a Carbon-Kevlar composite body. With intuitive joystick controls and a flight computer which keeps it stable in the air, everyone can learn how to fly it in just a matter of minutes.
The aircraft is powered by eight electric motors, has a flight time of 20 minutes, reaching a top speed of 102 kilometers per hour). It runs on high-discharge lithium-ion batteries and can carry a pilot's weight of 95kg. Batteries are stored in swappable canisters or cassettes that are exchangeable in minutes. They recharge in under an hour.
Jetson was founded in 2017 in Sweden by Tomasz Patan and Peter Ternström. Jetson is currently operating an R&D and production facility in Arezzo, Tuscany. The Jetson HQ's private airfield south of Florence combines an industrial facility and an 800-meter airstrip perfect for daily flight testing. The airport is also home to a customer experience centre and pilot school.
Steiber describes the interest preorders as "mind-blowing:
"I think we are probably the most popular channel on YouTube with 48 million views, which is more than Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, and Steve Bezos' Blue Origin combined."
He explained that the company has already sold over 300 units at a price of $98,000, with a down payment of $8,000 to reserve your serial number.
Steiber sees Jeston One's initial audience as akin to people who would "buy a sports car or potentially a large boat, as well as people who went through the pains of getting a commercial pilot's license because they love flying."
"Our approach is to start with the enthusiast, build a brand, make some money, and apply that technical knowledge to scale to a higher volume to an aircraft that's even more accessible for everyone."
One of the strengths of Jetson One is its simplicity. It's not designed for city hopping or cargo delivery. But instead, Steiber notes, the company decided to bring something to market that could act as a prototype for more advanced forms of aviation:
"We can make something now rather than holding our breath for the next five to 10 years waiting for regulatory approval. We pinned it to something that already exists in those markets."
In terms of utility, besides recreational use, the company has had alot of interest from emergency services in mountainous areas where it's faster to fly to someone in crisis (with appropriate backup on the way).
Steiber explained that around 80 percent of Jetson's paying customers are "in the US with a lot of interest in land mass areas like Texas and California "where the regulations are unambiguous when it comes to ultralight aircraft."
The new investors are pioneering angel investors from around the world, include famous rapper, tech entrepreneur, and consultant to automotive companies, will.i.am who also will become one of the first Jetson pilots.
According to will.i.am:
"I'm proud to be a part of the Jetson family and support the company's mission to democratize flight, opening the skies to all. Personal aircraft ideal for short point-to-point flights will soon be a reality."
Jetson is looking to expand its operation in the US market in 2024 and is evaluating several locations for its future US headquarters.
According to Steiber:
"We've hired 20 engineers, and we're getting ready for production. The company is already starting to meet people interested in our A-round."
The company hopes to start rolling out aircraft to customers next year.
Lead image: Jetson. Photo: Uncredited