WatFly Atlas, the Star Wars-style electric plane

Developed by a Canadian start-up, the WatFly Atlas is an electric adav with tilting rotors based on a tail-sitter design. This curious single-seater which is intended for recreational use is supposed to be marketed from 2021.

As incredible as it may seem, a privileged few living in North America may well get around next year in this astonishing quadrotor electric aircraft . Created by two students from the University of Waterloo (Canada), Atlas is what is called an aircraft vertical takeoff and landing or VTOL . But it has the particularity of using a tail-sitter design, where the device rests on its tail when it is on the ground.

The pilot takes place in a cockpit whose glass surface offers a 180 ° view. Two tilting rotors are aligned on either side of the cabin on a single wing. Oriented vertically for take-off and landing, they pivot horizontally for the actual flight. And so that the pilot does not undergo configuration changes, the cabin is connected by a gimbal system which allows him to keep his sitting position independently of that of the wing.

The WatFly Atlas is based on its tail, this is called the tail-sitter design.  © WatFly

No pilot license required

WatFly , the young shoot created to give life to this project, does not provide much technical details on the Atlas. Made of carbon fiber , the machine has a wingspan of 4.6 meters by 2.5 meters high and an empty weight of 129 kg . It can carry up to 113 kg of load and fly at 200 km / h. His battery would allow him to fly for about an hour.

Because of its configuration, the Atlas is approvable as aerial vehicle lightweight (ultralight Air Vehicle) to look to the law of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States. This means that the pilot would not need a license and that the use of the device is limited to leisure activities with prohibition of flying over dense areas, including cities and villages as well as certain specific airspaces. 

Despite the limited information available and the difficulty in gauging the viability of the project, WatFly aims to market the Atlas from next year for 150,000 dollars (138,000 euros according to the current price). By then, we hope to at least discover an operational prototype.