Quantum XYZ is planning to launch a mostly-electric commercial airline in the Los Angeles, California area in 2021, using a number of eFlyer aircraft, such as the single engine eFlyer pictured here, from Bye Aerospace before eventually adding eVTOLs. Photo: Bye Aerospace.
Quantum XYZ is planning to launch a mostly-electric commercial airline in the Los Angeles, California area in 2021, linking LAX to other regional airports to serve intra-city travelers. The company has made purchase deposits with Bye Aerospace for at least 24 of their two- and four-seat conventional takeoff eFlyer aircraft, as well as $2 million in purchase orders with WorkHorse for its SureFly hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft, according to eVTOL.com.
Quantum Air, the group’s airline subsidiary, also began procuring a Part 135 operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration more than five years ago.
The global coronavirus outbreak is likely to disrupt Quantum’s timeline; the eFlyer 2, which Bye Aerospace previously expected would achieve certification in late 2021, will likely be delayed.
“The Bye Aerospace team of engineers and [designated engineering representative] DERs is working hard with the FAA, and the certification effort continues to make solid progress,” a representative for the company told Avionics International. “It is too early to determine the depth of the virus-related impacts; certainly one quarter, or perhaps two quarters schedule delay.”
According to Bye’s website, its employees are fully remote at this time, meaning flight tests are almost certainly suspended. California and UK-based ZeroAvia, which is developing six- and 19-seat hydrogen-powered electric aircraft, told Avionics last week on the Connected Aircraft Podcast it had suspended flight testing as well.
The company hopes to receive its production certificate “nearly simultaneous with eFlyer 2 type certification” and produce 50 eFLyer 2’s in the following 12 months at its facility at Centennial Airport, south of Denver, Colorado.
Bye’s primary intention with its eFlyer project is to address to coming pilot shortage by providing training aircraft with drastically lower operating cost than legacy options; the company estimates the eFlyer 2 will cost $23 per flight hour, compared to $110 per hour for the Cessna 172.
“Bye Aerospace has surpassed 300 paid purchase deposits for both the eFlyer 2 and the eFlyer 4,” said George E. Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. Those deposits are not refundable, the company clarified to Avionics. George Bye is also on Quantum XYZ’s board of advisors.
The Quantum XYZ team, including co-founders Tony Thompson, Zeeshan Moha, Napp Da and Scott Akina. Photo: Quantum XYZ
In an interview with eVTOL.com, Quantum CEO Tony Thompson said the company is open to working with Uber, which plans to begin commercial eVTOL operations in LA in 2023, but “our strategy does not depend on what Uber does … and one of the big reasons why is [because] Uber is just not considering fixed-wing whatsoever.”
Quantum XYZ believes it can use these aircraft for regional air taxi services as well, saving travelers travel time in the highly-congested LA area, but — depending on customers’ final destinations — that may prove difficult to do with conventional aircraft, departing and landing at airports rather than rooftops. Current and former members of Uber’s Elevate team have stressed to Avionics the difficulty of building efficient multi-modal transit systems and minimizing time spend not in flight, based on their modeling and experience with Uber Copter.
On its website, Quantum XYZ declares itself the “1st VTOL Airline,” despite the existence of many helicopter airlines in prior decades and the fact that Bye Aerospace’s eFlyers are not VTOL. Quantum declined to elaborate on its purchases, its plans or provide clarifying information in response to an inquiry from Avionics.