Hyundai is very serious about taking to the skies. Late last year, the South Korean automaker announced that they are establishing an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) division. But unlike other automakers who are into commercial aircraft such as Honda with their HondaJet and Mitsubishi with their upcoming SpaceJet, Hyundai is taking a different approach.
Instead of making private airplanes, Hyundai's Urban Air Mobility division will focus on much smaller aircraft to fit in between city skylines. To get a jumpstart on things, they have hired a former helicopter industry executive to get them off the ground. His name is J. Scott Drennan.
His name may be unfamiliar to many of us but Drennan's background is impressive nonetheless. He worked for Bell, now known as Bell Textron, for over 25 years. He worked on projects such as the V-22 Osprey, AW609 helicopter, and the V-280. If you take a look at the these aircraft, these all make use VTOL or Vertical Take-Off and Landing systems, which is just what Hyundai Urban Air Mobility needs.
Drennan will be leading research and development for Hyundai's UAM. With a background in VTOL and tilt-rotor aircraft, his knowledge is vital in making air transport for the city which is made challenging with the limitations of space. Drennan will be working with Dr. Jaiwon Shin who had worked research and development at NASA for 30 years.
Hyundai had showed an aircraft prototype earlier this year. Dubbed the SA-1 and will be electric powered instead of jet-powered. Hyundai is aiming for a 2022 roll out for their first ever aircraft.
For their Urban Air Mobility Division, Hyundai wants to develop their own engine and airframe with the expertise of Shin, along with aviation safety systems and air traffic management technologies. With the word 'mobility' in the name, Hyundai is hinting something like carpooling service, albeit in the air. Who knows, perhaps air taxis might just be a thing in our lifetimes if Hyundai's new venture proves a success.