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The vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has an eventful development history , one which has seen a number of delays. According to a senior manager at Leonardo, however, the aircraft is now on course to receive certification from the US authorities in 2019. The 1:8.5 scale wind tunnel model, which has now been constructed and boasts a number of special features , is an important step in this direction. It was produced using selective laser sintering technology from Modena-based CRP ; the highly specialized company is a sought-after Formula 1 supplier and, together with its subsidiary Energica , makes innovative electric motorcycles.

According to CRP, it took just one day to set up the 3D printing jobs; four days later, the individual component parts, which on account of the loads in the wind tunnel need to be particularly robust, had been created. Windform, a carbon fiber-reinforced composite developed by CRP, was used here. The material’s properties include ultra-high dimensional stability when exposed to heat.

Leonardo is not, however, the only aerospace-smith currently working on civilian vertical takeoff aircraft. As vision-mobility.de reports , on January 22, 2019, Boeing’s autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype took off on its maiden flight. The company is also working on a freighter version of its electric aircraft.