New Jetson CEO Sees Early Adoption For Personal eVTOLs
The newly appointed CEO of Jetson predicts that some of the earliest adopters of electric-vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicles will be private owners who use their aircraft mainly for recreational purposes, with commercial passenger-carrying operations to arrive later.
“I believe very much that the single-seat eVTOL will be the first eVTOL that will hit the market, will be mass produced and will get in the hands of people,” Stéphan D’haene tells the AAM Report in his first interview as Jetson CEO. “It will only be afterward that bigger, transport eVTOLs hit the market.”
D’haene, who most recently served as chief operating officer (COO) of ICON Aircraft, says he was initially skeptical about the practicality of using eVTOLs for commercial passenger operations given the constraints of existing electric batteries. But when he saw the design for the single-seat Jetson One, and considered the possibilities of the personal-use eVTOL application, he realized there could be a market opportunity for a purely recreational aircraft with existing battery technology.
“A recreational vehicle that is smartly engineered and can give you 20 minutes of fun? I flew in it, and it was 20 minutes of pure adrenaline rush,” D’Haene says. “Let’s not forget, it’s a very small unit. You’re happy to land. I can tell you, you feel fully satisfied after a 20-minute flight with such a small Jetson.”
D’haene was also encouraged that the company’s certification path would be easier under FAA Part 103 rules for ultralight recreational vehicles, rather than Part 21.17b for most other eVTOL startups. “We don’t have to comply with certification standards that don’t exist yet,” he says. “I’ve been in three certification programs so far, and I know how these things can drag out, and it’s super hard to build a business within a framework that doesn’t exist yet.”
Headquartered in Stockholm, the Jetson One is capable of carrying a single pilot up to 32 km (20 mi.) at a top speed of 102 kph (63 mph). The vehicle’s maximum flight time is 20 min., and the aircraft is designed to fly at a maximum height of 1,500 ft. The Jetson One is intended to operate as a visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft and should not be used during rainy or inclement weather. No pilot license is required, but the company is developing an in-house training program for new users.
“I envision it being used as a purely recreational aircraft, with the exception of people that can commute because the distance allows it in a safe way,” D’haene says. “Many of our customers are people who can afford to spend $100,000 on a toy, who always dreamt about flying but weren’t able to become pilots, and suddenly now there is a much easier way.”
Prior to joining Jetson, D’Haene served as COO of ICON Aircraft, where he helped spearhead the turnaround of that company’s Engineering and Manufacturing operations. He has previously held executive roles at Swedish OEM BlackWing, Italian startup Porto Aviation Group and global powersports company BRP.