The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded on March 27 that the crash of an unmanned Kitty Hawk Heaviside (above, Kitty Hawk credit) eVTOL during an Oct. 17, 2019, developmental test flight in Tres Pinos, California, was caused by a software timing error affecting the aircraft’s controllability. The timing error had, in turn, been caused by an operator failing to terminate a battery charging script prior to flight. A remote pilot-in-command executed a high-speed landing in a grassy field, causing substantial damage.
The same day, the NTSB concluded that the crash of a Boeing CV2-Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV) during a June 21, 2019, test flight in Beeville, Texas, had been caused by higher-than-expected crosswinds, which pushed the autonomous aircraft laterally beyond the limits of its geo-fence area and triggered its multistep preprogrammed contingency forced landing — eventually causing it to cut power as designed and drop to the ground. Boeing attributed the crash to inadequate high-crosswind test data, insufficient ability to determine winds during flight and inadequate separation between the aircraft’s initial abort to planned zone and its outer geo-fence locations.
Meanwhile, Lilium confirmed to news media that its first fullscale Lilium Jet eVTOL prototype had been damaged beyond repair in a fire that started on Feb. 27 at its headquarters at Oberpfaffenhofen Airport in southern Germany. The company did not disclose the cause of the fire but said it will use its second prototype to continue the test program. (Sources: NTSB, AIN, eVTOL.com)