The eMagic One, a new electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) proof-of-concept demonstrator, made its public debut at the EUROPEAN ROTORS 2021 exhibition in Cologne, Germany, on Nov. 8–10. Developed by eMagic Aircraft, the eMagic One is the product of company founders Michael Kügelgen and Thomas Senkel, who sought to maximize the endurance and range of eVTOL aircraft without compromising on safety. Since conducting its maiden flight in May 2021, the eMagic One has demonstrated its potential as a unique and impressive addition to the field of eVTOL aircraft.
The eMagic One eVTOL demonstrator holds one person (the pilot) and is equipped with a tractor propeller for forward flight and eight lifting propellers dedicated for vertical flight. It features tandem wings, a vertical rear stabilizer and a tricycle taildragger wheeled landing gear arrangement. The aircraft can be completely disassembled for transportation by truck and trailer. The eMagic One was designed from scratch and has excellent flight characteristics. All components such as the electric drives, batteries and control systems are designed to be fully optimized. The airframe is extremely light at 562 lb (255 kg), maximizing the flight range of the aircraft.
The eMagic Team
First Flight Timeline
Jan. 6, 2019 – First flight of 1:6-scale RC eCTOL airplane
April 3, 2019 – First flight of 1:3.8-scale RC eCTOL airplane
May 10, 2019 – First flight of 1:3.8-scale RC Copter hover platform
May 28, 2019 – First transition of 1:3.8-scale RC airplane
March 4, 2020 – First flight of half-scale model airplane
July 30, 2020 – Full-scale Copter hover platform
May 21, 2021 – Manned full-scale aircraft taxi test
May 31, 2021 – Manned full-scale aircraft maiden flight
Oct. 24, 2021 – Manned full-scale hover platform
Nov. 5, 2021 – Unmanned hover flight of full-scale aircraft with lift propellers
Kügelgen founded MK Technology in Germany in 1997, which is an accomplished rapid prototyping and production company. Kügelgen notes as a highlight, the development and construction of the automatic production line investment casting for SpaceX for the production of rockets and rocket engine parts — this included construction of the world’s largest steam autoclave, which is 75 ft (12 m) high and has an empty weight of 143,300 lb (65 metric tons).
Kügelgen is a mechanical engineer and has been pilot for 45 years, rated for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. He developed the MK-105 Flash and MK-106 HIT drones in the 1980s, which were flown by the militaries of Germany, France and the US. MK Technology is based in Grafschaft, Germany, near the former capital of Bonn.
Senkel was the co-founder, primary designer, inventor and builder of Volocopter’s original VC1, and also made the first flight of this “flying yoga ball.” According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this event marked the world’s first crewed flight of an electric multicopter, on Oct. 21, 2011. Senkel left Volocopter in 2015, dissatisfied with the operational range of multicopters. According to Senkel, eMagic’s winged aircraft will have a range five times that of a multicopter eVTOL passenger aircraft.
Kügelgen leads the aerodynamic design, construction of the aircraft and flight testing, while Senkel is responsible for the propulsion system, battery technology, flight control and the “Copter” flight testing hover platform. Moritz Pfletschinger is in charge of software development, including the battery management system, pilot assistance system and flight controller optimization.
eMagic partnered with experts at other German companies for the development and construction of the prototype. This includes:
Matthias Strieker (Silence Aircraft GmbH, Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock): milling of all negative molds and manufacturing of carbon honeycomb primary and secondary structural parts of the airframe, as well as the off-the-shelf cockpit section
Thomas Strieker (Leviora Leichtbaumanufaktur, Verl): structural testing
Richard Krüger-Sprengel (Helix Carbon GmbH, Würselen): design and fabrication of the custom propellers
Hans-Joachim Droste (DrosteIngenieure GmbH, Cologne): milling of all metal parts for controls and the electric motors
Joachim Geiger (Geiger Engineering, Hirschaid): off-the-shelf electric motor for cruise propeller
In addition, Mirco Pecorari of AircraftStudioDesign in Modena, Italy, created the livery design and 3D renderings.
The eMagic One features a variety of safety measures, such as redundant on-board systems and a Kevlar honeycomb sandwich monocoque structure around the pilot. With multiple propellers and rotors, the aircraft takes advantage of distributed electric propulsion (DEP), meaning that if one or more lift propellers or motors fail, the other working propellers and motors can safely land the aircraft. The tandem-wing configuration of the eMagic One offers additional protection against stalls, enabling greater operator control when transitioning between flight modes. The aircraft has high-performance propellers that Helix Carbon optimized for cruise flight and for hovering, respectively. The eMagic One also has a whole-aircraft ballistic parachute and is capable of a conducting conventional takeoffs and landings.
The custom electric motors are Halbach magnet motors with a field-oriented controller (FOC). The aircraft uses heavy duty batteries and a battery management system (BMS); it has two independent systems: high energy-density packs for cruise and high power-density packs for hover. The only significant part of the aircraft that eMagic didn’t build from scratch was the pilot compartment: the company adopted the canopy, the canopy frame and the seat from Silence Aircraft GmbH’s Twister single-seat aerobatic aircraft. The cockpit has an electronic pilot monitor (EPM) to control all the sensors and gauges with a single monitor.
eMagic Aircraft was formed in 2018. After Kügelgen and Senkel settled on the One configuration, small-scale model testing began in early 2019 with a 1:6 (16.7%-scale) radio controlled (RC) airplane for electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL). Over the next 30 months, eMagic built and flew additional 1:3.8 (26.3%-scale) and 1:2 (50%-scale) model for eCTOL testing prior to first flight, as well as half-scale and full-scale versions of its Copter hover test platform (see sidebar, “First Flight Timeline”).
Sub-scale prototypes of the two aircraft — the eMagic One and the eMagic Copter — made their inaugural remote-controlled flights in spring 2019. In July 2020, the full-scale eMagic Copter conducted its first remote-controlled eVTOL flight. On May 31, 2021, the eMagic One reached a milestone by completing its maiden crewed eCTOL flight. Successive tests throughout the year evaluated the hover capabilities of both aircraft, with the first eMagic One hover flight (uncrewed) occurring on Nov. 5, just 10 days before it was trucked to EUROPEAN ROTORS.
eMagic One Description
1x 40 kW @2200 rpm
8x 15 kW @1800 rpm
up to 60 min
up to 4 min
eMagic is flying the demonstrator under the German Ultralight Flight Association (DULV) provision flight approval (VVZ), which is the same approval that has been used by Volocopter to date. The maximum takeoff limit that can be approved by DULV is 1,041.7 lb (472.5 kg), slightly more than the maximum takeoff weight for the eMagic One, which is 925 lb (420 kg); an ultralight in Germany is also limited to only one or two seats.
The aircraft and Copter platform — as well as the models, were all built and assembled in Kügelgen’s personal hangar and facilities, at MK Technology’s Tec Centre. All hover test flights were accomplished in the field adjacent to the Tec Centre and his private property — he notes that this area is also the landing field for his personal Guimbal Cabri G2 and is officially certified.
For the flights of the One aircraft, eMagic has been testing at two nearby airfields, one is Bad Neuenahr (EDRA) and the other is Mendig (EDRE).
The tests so far show an incredibly quiet aircraft in cruise as well as hover. The company’s motto is “Even Birds Are Jealous!” Indeed, in the flight test videos, the chirping of birds at the airfield can be heard over the noise of the aircraft.
In spring 2022, eMagic plans to begin conducting transition flights from hover to forward flight and back with the eMagic One. The company plans to continue flight testing the aircraft to receive full DULV certification and build several additional One aircraft to gain more experience.
What Comes Next
eMagic Aircraft is seeking to develop a serial production aircraft that incorporates the lessons from past flight demonstrations. The production aircraft is likely to hold either three or four people; eMagic Aircraft has stated that a three passenger eVTOL aircraft is probably the best number of passengers for an air taxi. Although the work to date has been financed using personal funds, eMagic Aircraft is seeking investors to support the development of a serial production aircraft.
In a virtual presentation at Flying Pages’ annual e-flight-forum in China, Kügelgen presented the first images of the company’s eMagic Next, a smart-looking scaled-up design with two tractor propellers. The batteries are located under the propeller nacelles, enabling quick and easy battery swapping.
Driven by a passion for flying, Senkel and Kügelgen are confident that eMagic Next offers an innovative solution to some of aviation’s longstanding challenges.
About the Author
Mike Hampson is the editor of the VFS World eVTOL Aircraft Directory (www.eVTOL.news/aircraft). He is also the founder and editor of Helicopter Links (www.HelicopterLinks.com) — “The Online Yellow Pages for the Helicopter Industry” — and a past contributor to Vertiflite.
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