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article imageKitty Hawk reveals its third electric aircraft the Heavyside

By Ken Hanly     Oct 3, 2019 in Technology
Kitty Hawk and electric flight startup company which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, has unveiled a third aircraft called Heaviside or HVSD. It is claimed to be 100 times more quiet than a helicopter.
HVSD has an extended range
The company claims the HVSD can travel 55 miles from San Jose to San Francisco in just 15 minutes. It is said to have a range of about 100 miles which is a considerable range for an electric aircraft as the weight of the batteries needed limit the range of such craft.
Company provides no details on the battery and power-train of the HVSD
We do know from photographs that the orange and black vehicle has vertical takeoff and landing capacities (VTOL) provided by eight rotors. A company website describes the HVSD: "Project Heaviside is Kitty Hawk’s latest high-performance electric VTOL vehicle. It is designed to be fast, small and exceedingly quiet, taking advantage of new possibilities to free people from traffic. The Heaviside vehicle is roughly 100 times quieter than a regular helicopter. Once in the air, the vehicle blends into the background noise of a city or suburb, barely discernible to the human ear. Heaviside can travel from San Jose to San Francisco in 15 minutes and uses less than half the energy of a car."
The HVSD is said to be about one third the size of a Cessna airplane.
The HVSD is quiet compared to regular helicopters. A recent TechCrunch article reports: Unlike a helicopter, the HVSD starts and lifts off in just seconds. There is sound as it lifts off — hitting about 80 decibels — but what’s striking is the brevity. The take-off sound lasts fewer than 10 seconds. As HVSD gains altitude and then circles above us, the only sound is a few engineers and technicians talking nearby. Once Thrun quiets the crew, the noise falls below 40 decibels, which is what a typical, quiet residential neighborhood registers at. HVSD is nearby at about 600 feet of altitude, but it is barely audible as it circles above us. An office with an air conditioning running might be about 50 decibels, Thrun says for comparison.“The calculus here is that this has to be socially acceptable for people,” Thrun says. “There’s a reason why helicopters are not: they’re for rich people and they’re noisy.”" Sebastian Thrun is the CEO of Kitty Hawk.
A helicopter hovering at 1500 feet emits about 80dBA while the HVSD emits just 38 dBA.
The Kitty Hawk aircraft not likely to replace helicopters for now
Some might wonder if the Heavyside (HVSD) could replace conventional helicopters as a taxi service as they are quieter and more fuel efficient. However, there is no word yet on when the aircraft can go into production. Even if they do those announced so far would be almost useless as taxis. The first plane the Flyer was a single seater and the second the Cora is only a two seater while the Heavyside again has room only for the pilot. There is an appended video showing the Flyer.
Electric flight needs a great deal of energy
Even a 100 mile range for the Heavyside, a breakthrough, requires a number of heavy batteries. To meet the challenge aircraft are made very small. The batteries that can provide some Tesla's with a 300 mile range would carry an electric aircraft only a few miles. Unless battery technology improves so as to allow more weight and passengers in electric aircraft Kitty Hawk seems unlikely to be a serious competitor against conventional helicopters in the air taxi business.
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