British startup Lyte Aviation has received a pre-order for 10 LA-44 SkyBus convertibles from Indian airline Vman Aviation Services. The order is worth €400 million, Vertical.

Unlike small two- to four-seater VTOL aerotaxi, Lyte Aviation LA-44 SkyBus is really more like a regional bus: 40 passengers, 2 pilots plus 2 additional crew members; range up to 1000 km; speed up to 300 km/h; fuel efficiency 5 times better than that of a helicopter.

The convertible takes off like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, so it has two rotary wings with 8 turboprop engines. For now, they run on conventional fuel, but in the future they will be fuel cell electric motors. In addition to the passenger version of the LA-44 SkyBus, a cargo version, the LA-44C SkyTruck, is also planned.

Despite the order from Vman, the Lyte Aviation LA-44 SkyBus convertible airplane still exists only on paper. The full-size prototype is to be built in 2024, with the first flight in 2025. Mass production will begin only in 5-6 years, so we won’t see air buses like in the science fiction of the 1960s in the sky for a while.