I watched the 2022 edition of the Pacific Airshow retransmission, and the Opener BlackFly demo caught my eye and imagination. Please go check it out here. You have to see it to grasp how incredible this ultralight fixed-wing all-electric VTOL is. The company based in Palo Alto, California, is relatively young, and their approach to what I will call the flying car we are all waiting for since 2000 is very credible. Because it is an ultralight, there is no need for a PP license to drive it (however, ultralight vehicles are subject to FAA’s rules in 14 CFR 103), which makes the BlackFly – and its future derivatives – a plausible contender for the first flying car title 😉.

It is always interesting to look into companies’ job openings to gauge the technologies they use in their development. I was interested in the software/firmware. Opener seems to use C/C++ for its firmware development for ARM microcontrollers. Communications between IPs and/or modules seem to use the usual suspects (CAN, SPI, and other flavors of serial comms). Not surprisingly, the company needs knowledge in robotics, control systems & sensors. Last but not least, some parts of the system must run under an RTOS (likely RTLinux, possibly QNX).

Nothing outlandish, but a set of solid and classic technologies to implement the features such as auto-land, return to home, etc. By the way, drones introduced these features and have disrupted the traditional RC market, opening it up to a vast and eclectic audience. Everyone can fly a drone, but only a few RC model survive their first flight! I see the BlackFly doing the same in the ultralight space. For sure, the avionics will have to cope with the Sunday flyers – oops, I meant drivers of the future.

Good luck to the BlackFly, and I look forward to seeing it in Oregon.