Korean startup Plana recently concluded its pre-series A funding round with a total of $9 million (USD). The company is developing a concept for a hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, targeting commercialization of its eVTOL in 2028.
Companies including FuturePlay, Kibo Technology Fund, Schmidt, DSC Investment, Shinhan Asset Management, Dt& Investment, Industrial Bank of Korea, and Xenoholdings Asia all participated in the pre-series A fundraising round. Total investment into Plana is now about $10 million, which includes a 2021 seed round.
Plana’s hybrid electric aircraft will be powered by batteries and turbine generators. The eVTOL will be piloted and have capacity for up to six passengers. Maximum speed is expected to be 350 km/hr, or about 217 mph.
The company plans to establish a branch in the U.S. this year in order to pursue certification with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Plana is targeting 2025 for development of the full-scale prototype. A half-scale technology demonstrator is planned for 2023, and they expect to conduct the first flight in early 2024, a company representative shared in an emailed statement to Avionics International.
Plana’s half-scale demonstrator will be deployed for the Korean Urban Air Mobility (K-UAM) Grand Challenge Demonstration Project. This project is hosted by Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT), and it is organized by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute.
The Korean government has established a goal of commercialization of UAM in Korea by 2025. The K-UAM Grand Challenge was announced in February 2022, and participants will be selected in November. Demonstration flights are planned to take place from August 2023 to March 2024, with a report to follow in May 2024.
Two other leading eVTOL developers have announced their plans to introduce air taxis in South Korea. In February, Joby Aviation entered into an agreement with SK Telecom to bring Joby’s eVTOL to the market in South Korea. Joby is one of the frontrunners of the eVTOL industry in the U.S., with plans to begin operations in 2024.
Jaunt Air Mobility, which is developing an eVTOL called the Journey, announced a strategic partnership with MintAir in August. The companies will collaborate to launch eVTOL operations in South Korea, and MintAir intends to purchase up to 40 of Jaunt’s eVTOLs. Jaunt expects to launch in 2026 or earlier.
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