A rendered image of KAI's UAM aircraft. (KAI)
Korea Aerospace Industries is venturing into the air taxi business with an aim to develop a small-sized Urban Air Mobility aircraft by 2024 so it can be used as a test model. KAI said it will later develop a full-scale UAM aircraft that can be used as a standardized model for the air taxi business in Korea amid the government’s push to commercialize air taxis by 2025.
According to industry sources, KAI is building a small-sized UAM aircraft that will be 25 percent to 40 percent smaller in size compared to the standard size. It will test the functionality and performance of the smaller model prior to producing the standard model, which will stand 7.5 meters tall. The company said it has not decided on the exact size of the smaller model.
KAI’s test version of a UAM aircraft will be powered by a hybrid engine and tiltrotors, which allow vertical takeoff and landing -- regarded as UAM core technologies.
Taking advantage of the model’s small size, KAI said it will test various aspects of UAM technology and performance within a short period of time and at reduced cost.
KAI said its experience in developing a mobile helicopter and unmanned air vehicle will contribute to building the country’s standardized aircraft for UAM.
With no clear leader standing in the UAM field, South Korean conglomerates including Hyundai Motor Group, SK Telecom, Hanwha and Lotte have joined the UAM development race in recent years. Of them, Hanwha Solutions -- the defense electronics and related smart technologies service affiliate of Hanwha Group -- has been the only local firm to test UAM aircraft in January, as part of a joint project conducted with US UAM firm Overair.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org