Hybrid Flying Car Demonstration in West Japan; Oita Pref. Govt. Seeking Increased Regional Accessibility

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The aircraft takes off vertically during the demonstration held in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on March 1.

BUNGO-ONO, Oita — A demonstration of a hybrid flying car was recently held in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, in preparation for putting it into practical use as a next-generation means of transportation.

The aircraft featured a hybrid system powered by small gas turbines on both wings, making the open demonstration held on March 1 the first such occasion in Japan to use a large drone with this system, according to the Oita prefectural government and others.

Flying cars are expected to become a new means of transportation to and from places like remote islands and mountainous areas, as well as transporting victims and emergency supplies in the event of disasters.

The aircraft meets requirements to be considered an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft), such as using electric-power and having the ability to vertically take off and land.

Last year, the prefectural government signed a memorandum of understanding with Hien Aero Technologies Co., a Tokyo-based company working to commercialize eVTOL, for industrial promotion in the prefecture through the development of aircraft.

The demonstration was held at the prefectural central airfield with about 40 people, including officials from the prefectural government and drone-related businesses based in the prefecture.

The aircraft, five meters wide, 1.5 meters tall and 3.2 meters long, rose vertically to the height of eight meters. The 100-kilogram vehicle with a maximum payload of 25 kilograms remained in the air for about 40 seconds.

“We want to proceed with the aircraft’s development while checking its functions and principles,” said Gaku Minorikawa, who heads Hien Aero Technologies.

“We expect that the aircraft will be used to solve a variety of regional challenges,” said Takayuki Kaku, director of the prefectural government’s advanced technology challenge division.