A new bullet-shaped aircraft might become the next private jet within everyone’s reach. The Celera 500L is a six-person aircraft, capable of flying like a jet, with eight times less fuel consumption and a range twice that of its competitors. The manufacturer is Otto Aviation and several successful flights have already been completed.
The secret of the Celera 500L is laminar flow, a minimal drag solution for aircraft surfaces. With its aerodynamic structure, it requires much less power to reach takeoff and cruise speeds. The Celera 500L is powered by the RED A03 liquid-cooled, six-cylinder, twin-V12 liquid-cooled engine. It is certified to run on Jet A1 and biodiesel. One peculiarity is that the aircraft has no windows, although Otto says this is the case with the test version.
Otto Aviation boasts fuel consumption up to 8 times lower than other aircraft of similar size, thus reducing emissions. The distinctive feature of the aircraft is its bullet shape and the use of “laminar flow” on the surface in order to reduce aerodynamic drag by up to 59%. “The windows will not affect laminar flow, as they are flush mounted and have the same contours as the outer shape of the fuselage,” said David Bogue, the company’s chief technology officer.
Laminar flow technology and a choice of clean-sheet configuration options allow Otto to achieve practical ranges with zero-emission propulsion.David Bogue, Otto Aviation Chief Technology Officer
The aircraft has a maximum cruising speed of 725 kilometers per hour, a range of more than 7,200 kilometers, and an astonishing fuel economy of only four liters per 29 to 40 kilometers. This makes it the most environmentally friendly aircraft in its category, representing a major step forward in the effort to create zero-emission air transport. The Celera 500L is powered by a RED A01 V12 liquid-cooled V12 engine that operates as two independent 6-cylinder engines with an output of 550 horsepower.
With a cabin height of 1.87 meters and a volume of 12.7 cubic meters, the Celera 500L is designed to carry up to six passengers, although it can also be used for cargo operations and military actions. The company explains that the hourly operating cost of the Celera 500L is approximately $328 (290 euros), when a similar aircraft costs about $2,100 per hour.
Our goal is to create an aircraft that allows direct flights between any two cities in the United States at speeds and costs comparable to commercial flights, but with the convenience of private aviation.William Otto Sr, President of Otto Aviation
On November 17th, 2021, Otto Aviation concluded Phase One testing of its Celera 500L aircraft with 55 total successful test flights and roughly 51 hours of flight time. The Celera 500L is the most fuel-efficient, commercially viable business aircraft in the world.
The final Phase One test flight was flown using Sustainable Aviation Fuel, further validating the Celera 500L’s potential to revolutionize sustainable air travel in an aircraft that already has 80% lower fuel consumption than comparable aircraft. All test flights have validated the aircraft’s operating performance goals.
The Otto Aviation team used industry standard flight test performance methods that aided in refining the statistical certainty of the prototype performance. The most recent flights took place from July to November. Several flights reached air speeds of over 250 mph at altitudes up to 15,000 feet which projects to an airspeed of 460 mph at 50,000 feet.
During test flights, the team was able to visualize the laminar flow state with a precision infrared camera mounted on a chase aircraft, quantifying extensive laminar flow capability on external surfaces. The team also tested wing and fuselage surfaces for laminar flow robustness and gathered additional test data supporting the development work for the production vehicle.
Through a collaboration with Cal Poly’s BLDS team (Boundary Layer Data System), Otto Aviation was able to quantify the skin friction state of the wing and fuselage surfaces utilizing a series of Preston-type, pitot-static tubes. Additionally, Otto Aviation was able to collect data from custom-built boundary layer rakes to measure the cumulative effect of laminar friction on the airflow around the wing and fuselage.
For now, the project is in the certification and financing phase, so the company will only begin manufacturing sometime between 2023 and 2025.