Celera 500L: The egg-shaped aircraft that can revolutionize business aviation

Read Time:5 Minute, 22 Second


(CNN)— Is it an egg, an airship, or a bullet? No matter what you want to call the shape of Otto Celera 500L, it will attract attention. It doesn’t look like other airplanes, and for a good reason: unique aerodynamics.

The Celera shape is designed to significantly reduce drag by allowing air to flow very smoothly on the surface of the aircraft. This makes the aircraft consume less power, which means it burns less fuel.

“This makes us four to five times more efficient than other turboprop aircraft and seven to eight times that of jet aircraft,” said William Otto Jr., CEO of Otto Airlines.

From a numerical point of view, this means that the operating cost exceeds that of a business jet of similar size. According to Otto Aviation, the cost of a Celera per hour is $328, compared to $2,100 per hour, and the fuel economy is 18 to 25 miles per gallon—similar to the fuel economy of a large SUV—and the fuel economy per gallon is The sex is 2 to 3 miles.

All of this has enough space for six passengers, a speed of 460 miles per hour and a range of 4,500 miles, comparable to a passenger plane. Is it really great?

Smooth flow

The design of Celera 500L is partly inspired by torpedoes.

The design of Celera 500L is partly inspired by torpedoes.

Brad Adkins/Otto Airlines

Celera 500L is currently a prototype, the brainchild of William Otto Sr. (William Otto Sr.) is an aerospace veteran whose work ranges from the U.S. militia missile program to B-1 bomber. The project was originally a thought experiment: Is it possible to design a business jet with a much lower operating cost than the current options?

For inspiration, Otto checked his research on torpedoes while he was trying to load more torpedoes into the submarine. To this end, he made the torpedoes more effective in shape and required less power, thereby making the engines that propel them smaller.

This shape is determined by a concept called “Laminar Flow”.

Laminar flow occurs when a fluid (such as air) flows in parallel layers without interruption; it is the opposite of turbulence, which occurs when the flow is mixed or chaotic.

The egg-shaped design of Celera 500L is designed to achieve laminar flow on the surface of the aircraft, allowing smoother penetration of the air.

Otto Aviation stated that the design can reduce drag by 59% compared to similarly sized aircraft, resulting in significant fuel and emissions savings.

But if the effect of laminar flow is so good, why not all airplanes are designed like this?

“In order to maintain laminar flow, you must create structures that don’t bend, bend, or distort shapes,” Otto said. “You can never do this with metal, composites are indeed the only way.

Even small temporary defects such as ice or flattened bugs can weaken laminar flow, which is difficult to scale to the size of a passenger plane. Otto added that cheap fuel may also play a role in enabling designers to avoid it in favor of simpler projects.

A diesel engine

The designer of this aircraft says that it is 80% more efficient than its competitors.

The designer of this aircraft says that it is 80% more efficient than its competitors.

Brad Adkins/Otto Airlines

Since laminar flow makes the aircraft require less power, the Celera 500L is equipped with a V12 diesel engine designed by the German manufacturer RED at the rear. “This is the most efficient aircraft engine we can find, matching the most efficient aerodynamic airframe,” Otto said.

In the near future, diesel engines may be replaced by electric or hydrogen engines, making aircraft zero emissions. “For now, we have reduced carbon emissions by 80% compared to competing aircraft; on a per-passenger basis, we are better than airlines that meet emissions requirements for 2030-2050,” Otto added.

Celera 500L first flew in 2018 and has since completed about 50 test flights. So far, it has a top speed of only 251 miles per hour and an altitude of only 17,000 feet, but the more powerful engine version that will be installed will achieve faster speeds and higher altitudes, close to 40,000 feet.

At some point, windows will be added to the fuselage (not yet). Otto believes that this aircraft will finally go on sale in 2025.

“At this point, we started talking with potential partners and operators around the world. We have already developed interest in this aircraft from all over the world, and estimate that the audience for this aircraft is approximately 100 times the current private aviation market. “Otto said.

Bigger model

01-celera-500l-Business aircraft

The initial price of this aircraft is expected to be 5 million U.S. dollars.

Brad Adkins/Otto Airlines

Due to the shape of the aircraft, the cabin is more spacious than similar aircraft such as Pilatus PC-12 or Beech King Air. “We have a cabin height of 6’2″ so you can get on the plane. There is an upright toilet. It is really at the same level as the medium-sized business jet,” Otto said.

However, the unconventional appearance may drag some customers down.

“This may not be attractive to corporate executives flying on Gulfstream jets, but a large audience is frustrated with commercial airlines, airport security, waiting in line and how long it takes,” Otto said.

Initially, this aircraft will be sold to private customers-the price is close to 5 million US dollars-but there are plans for two larger models, which can accommodate 19 and 40 passengers respectively, making it competitive with regional jets. Otto said that discussions with major airlines are ongoing.

However, Celera still has a long way to go before that, including years of test flights and full certification of the aircraft. Most importantly, it includes fulfilling a series of impressive promises.

According to Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, Otto Airlines has made a very big statement regarding aircraft performance.

“All this sounds very promising, but maybe too promising,” Aboulafia said. “Considering the range, speed, capacity, and the combination of extremely low-power engines considering all these indicators, I think they just need to prove that it is effective.

“If they can really achieve what they claim, then it should be able to scale upwards,” he added. “But again, I think it’s best to take a cautious approach and wait to see if it can be proven on their first aircraft.”

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