eVTOL News In-depth Interview: Opener BlackFly - Marcus Leng & Ben Diachun
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November 27, 2019 by Vertical Flight Society
This is an in-depth interview with the leaders of Opener, which is developing the BlackFly all-electric, single-seat electric-powered Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) personal air vehicle in Palo Alto, California.
The Vertical Flight Society interviewed Opener Founder & CEO Marcus Leng and President Ben Diachun at EAA Air Venture Oshkosh in July 2018 and July 2019.
Canadian engineer Marcus Leng (now CEO of Opener) began developing the concept in August 2009, and made what appears to "the first manned flight of a fixed-wing all-electric VTOL aircraft" on Oct. 5, 2011, at his home in Warkworth, Ontario, 90 miles east of Toronto.
This pioneering event prompted the formation of a stealth company with the sole purpose of pursuing the development of this new unique technology. In September of 2014, the Company reorganised as Opener and relocated the majority of its operations from Canada to the Silicon Valley of California to pursue an unencumbered and accelerated development timeline.
On July 12, 2018, Opener publicly unveiled its BlackFly personal air vehicle, which is fully-qualified to FAA Part 103 ultralight standards. Based on FAA ultralight restrictions, the BlackFly is limited to a maximum speed of 62 mph (100 km/h) and 25 miles (40 km), however its maximum performance characteristics are significantly more than this.
In April 2019, Opener announced the appointment of aerospace industry veteran and innovator, Ben Diachun to the senior leadership team as President. Diachun came to Opener from Scaled Composites, the aerospace company that worked with the late Paul Allen to design and fly SpaceShipOne, an experimental air-launched rocket-powered aircraft. During his 16 years at Scaled Composites, Diachun was involved in the development and flight testing of 16 different innovative aircraft.
BlackFly has two wings and eight electric motors. It can take-off and land vertically like a helicopter and transition to forward flight and cruise like a fixed-wing biplane.
Opener, is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page and Alan Eustace who served until 2015 as Google's Senior Vice President of Engineering and Senior Vice President of Knowledge. A lifelong pilot, Eustace flies fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, parachutes and paragliders.
On Oct. 24, 2014, Eustace set the world record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump from 135,889 ft [41.4 km].
Opener is now producing the first 100 BlackFly v3 aircraft for sale to the general public while flight testing of unmanned aircraft prototypes continues at secret locations in Canada and the United States.
At EAA AirVenture 2019, Opener announced it was donating one of the two piloted BlackFly v2 prototypes to the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
At the same time, Marcus Leng was awarded the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) 2019 August Raspet Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the advancement of light aircraft design. Leng joins many other aviation luminaries including Burt Rutan, Dick VanGrunsven and Curtiss Pitts in receiving this award.
VFS Reporter & Producer: Kenneth I. SwartzVideographer: Warren LiebmannProduction: Warren Liebmann
More information on Opener BlackFly can be found on the Vertical Flight Society (VFS) website: https://evtol.news/2018/09/01/opener-blackfly-debu...
For more on Opener's Canadian roots, read "The Green Awakening" by Kenneth I. Swartz in "Skies" magazine:
Music used at the end of this video:Rights purchased from: Digitalljuice BacktraxxName of track: corporateindustrial1
Music copyright information: https://gear.digitaljuice.com/products/product_docs.asp?docid=54
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