Why You Need A Zeppelin-Shaped Business Jet

Longer range and better fuel efficiency are just some of the perks.

By Michael Verdon 14/12/2020

Sure, a sleek business jet might be more alluring, but the numbers for the zeppelin-like Celera 500L from Otto Aviation are more compelling. The six-seat business aircraft promises 7.65km per litre to 10.63 km per litre fuel economy—that’s eight times better than similarly sized aircraft—with a max cruise speed of 740km/h and a 4,500-nautical-mile range, as opposed to 2,100 nm for a typical light business jet.  And the $434-per-hour operating costs are a third of those for competitors’ light jets. Here’s how Otto makes the magic happen.

1. Smooth Moves: The push-propeller design avoids creating turbulent airflow across the fuselage, adding to the aircraft’s efficiency, while the ventral fin below provides strike protection.

2. Apex Twin: The Red A03 lightweight aluminium piston engine is a liquid-cooled V-12, with each twin six-cylinder bank capable of independent operation. The engine is certified to operate on Jet AI and biodiesel fuel—which means 50 per cent lower fuel burn compared to turbine engines in the same category.

Otto Aviation Celera 500

A rendering of the plane’s light-filled interior. Otto Aviation

3. The Shape of Things: The odd shapes of the fuselage and wings create uninterrupted airflow, reducing drag by up to 60 per cent compared to a similarly sized business aircraft. This laminar-flow design is what underpins the Celera’s fuel efficiency, speed and range.

4. The Flow With the Go: High-aspect ratio wings increase the Celera’s laminar flow. Unusually long wingtips provide both aerodynamic efficiency and lateral stability. Designed to fly above weather and other air traffic, the Celera doubles its airspeed as it climbs between 15,000 and 50,000 feet.

5. Volume to 11: The aircraft’s rounded shape allowed interior designers to install six spacious seats and the six-foot-two-inch headroom of a midsize jet, while placing the engine behind the cabin and using a rear prop makes for a much quieter in-flight experience. Its 12.6-cubic metre of volume bests competitors like Beechcraft’s King Air 350, with 11.8-cubic metre, and the Citation CJ3, with just 8.8 cubic metres.

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