The mysterious and bizarre-looking Otto Aviation Celera 500L aircraft, which caused a buzz among aviation geeks, has performed its first flight, Tyler Rogoway of The War Zone reported.
According to the report, the aircraft was spotted in the air near its Victorville, California home early last week and it isn’t clear if this was the plane’s actual first flight.
“Usually successful first flights are something to be grandly promoted and are a huge validation of so much tireless work by the project’s team, yet this endeavor seems to have been run in a manner far more akin to a secretive military aircraft project than a potentially transformative civil aviation one”, Tyler Rogoway noted in the report.
The aircraft is currently based at the Southern California Logistics Airport, a public airport located in the city of Victorville in San Bernardino County, California. Prior to its civil usage, the facility was George Air Force Base, from 1941 to 1992 a U.S. Air Force flight training facility.
Earlier this year, the aircraft, with a U.S. civil registration code N818WM, was spotted undergoing taxi tests by NASA pilot Scott Howe. In an Instagram post, he described the aircraft as an ‘experimental pusher prop plane’.
The Celera 500L is powered by 500-hp Raikhlin Aircraft Engine Developments (RED) A03 V12 engine driving a single pusher propeller. It is unclear whether the aircraft has one or two A03 engines.
According to The War Zone report, the aircraft is “definitely focused on potentially game-changing high-efficiency flight that has the potential to disrupt the aerospace marketplace”.
The aircraft, according to a patent filing, has a service ceiling of approximately 65,000 feet and a normal cruise speed of 460-510 mph, with specific fuel consumption of approximately 30-42 mpg depending on cruise speed and altitude. In comparison, the popular Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop light aircraft has a ceiling of 30,000 ft, a cruising speed of around 330 mph and consumes a gallon of fuel for each 5-mile flight.
The landing stall speed of Celera 500L aircraft is approximately 70 mph, takeoff and landing speeds are approximately 90 mph, and runway requirements are approximately 3000 ft.