A prototype of the Otto Aviation Celera 500L business and utility aircraft has completed its first phase of flight testing, the company reports.

The unusual-looking aircraft, marketed as much more fuel efficient than conventional airplanes of comparable size, conducted 55 flights intended to help Otto Aviation to test and fine-tune its performance.

“We couldn’t be more excited in this step toward our mission of having a production aircraft in 2025, and we look forward to beginning the next phase of development where we will take the aircraft to higher altitudes and higher speeds,” William Otto Jr, CEO of Otto Aviation, said in the company's press release.

According to Otto, the data gathered during testing shows that the company is on target to achieve its goals for the aircraft.

The manufacturer touts the Celera 500L as having 80% lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions than its competitors. Information in the press release suggests that this level of efficiency is not yet achievable with the prototype, although it does demonstrate that the company is working towards it. 

The main selling point of the Celera 500L is its ability to allow laminar flow of air around the fuselage, wings and empennage. Otto Aviation partnered with California Polytechnic State University on the use of a special Boundary Layer Data System that would help measure the friction of the air moving around the airframe, and assisted the company with further development.

The Celera 500L prototype was unveiled in August 2020. The aircraft uses a turbocharged diesel piston engine and can cruise at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), at speeds of over 460 miles per hour (740 kilometers per hour). 

The production variant will be a six-seat light aircraft with a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,335 kilometers). 

Such a range is significantly greater than aircraft of a similar size, such as the Piaggio P.180 Avanti and the Beechcraft Starship, are capable of reaching