Lift Aircraft says it'll take you less than an hour to learn to fly its Hexa eVTOL, and then you're off on a unique and spectacular sightseeing trip.
While big-time air taxi startups like Joby and Archer struggle their way through the painstaking process of FAA certification, hoping to hit the market in 2025, Lift seems to have found a loophole that'll get eVTOLs into certain use cases much earlier.
The Hexa is a super-simple and lightweight airframe; a manned multicopter with 18 smallish vertical lift props for massive redundancy, a small single-seat cabin, and a set of chunky floats on the bottom designed so it can land on the ground or the water if necessary.
Weighing only 432 lb (196 kg), it qualifies as a powered ultralight aircraft under FAA standards – and that means you don't need a pilot's license to fly it, provided you stick to uncontrolled airspace and uncongested flyover areas. There's plenty of this kind of airspace around Manhattan Island, says Lift, and the eVTOL itself is ridiculously easy to fly with a simple joystick, with fully automated takeoff and landing taking care of the riskiest parts of the endeavor.
According to Lift, you'll learn to fly the Hexa in less than an hour, using a VR simulator in the ground office. After a quick "skills and knowledge proficiency test," you'll become an approved pilot. From this point, you can book a flight anytime you feel like one through a phone app, which also handily walks you through a pre-flight check before you hop in the aircraft.
Once you're aboard, a tablet-sized screen will take you through the remainder of the pre-flight check, help you establish radio communications with the Lift flight control team, then run through a systems check and get you airborne to an altitude of 35 ft (10.6 m). After that, you're free to muck about however you choose for the next eight to 15 minutes, within the geofenced garden of your flight area, and with the aircraft automatically ensuring you stay well clear of other aircraft.