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Airborne: Reborn / Volume XXXIII / May 28th 2021

Give your eyes a rest and soothe your ears instead with the new Airborne: Reborn podcast 🎧:😎 - the perfect way to soak up your New Aerospace news over the weekend.

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In yet another busy week for New Aerospace we’ve got news of the first Irish vertiport, American autonomy tech for a big German drone, a new Chinese ‘air taxi’ unveiled, and partnership agreements Stateside and in South Korea.

There were bankruptcy filings from a British battery tech company and an American supersonic upstart, more SAF commitments, renders of a plush airship interior and some eye popping (though unsurprising) stats on the climate impact of biz jets.

We had more drone-in-a-box deployments in Singapore, software platform solutions making progress on both remote piloting and drone delivery operations.

There was policy progress in the UK that’s music to the ears of both vertical and horizontal launch hopefuls, encouraging sounds from the Swedish arctic space cluster, more satellite launches for the two leading mega-constellations and progress on Chinese plans for their homegrown competitor. More updates on ‘lunar mobility’ plans and communications consortia progress through contracting (try saying that one fast…) for both US and European moon projects. With all that, and more, it's Airborne: Reborn Vol. XXXIII.

Charles Osborne - Founder

Sam Chandra - Asia-Pacific Lead, Aviation


Hot on the tails of Volocopter’s new aircraft announcement, eHang finally released images and specs of their VT-30 lift + cruise eVTOL. With a range of 300km, a flight time of 100 minutes and two passenger seats, it comes as the next logical step for the Chinese company that has significant experience operating their pilotless EH216 multicopters in trial flights around the world (via eHang):

Not everyone’s impressed - we couldn’t resist sharing this critique from eVTOL pioneer Mark Moore (formerly of NASA and Uber Elevate):

Volocopter and Near Earth Autonomy announced a partnership to use the latter’s autonomous navigation tech on the Volodrone. A BVLOS demo is planned for 2022 in Munich (via Volocopter):

Ireland’s first vertiport will be established in Shannon following an MOU signed by Skyports (backed by Declan ‘Ryanair’ Ryan’s Irelandia Aviation), Future Mobility Campus Ireland, Avtrain and Shannon Group. The cohort will bring flight test, training and certification and business development capabilities together. They’ll aim for an operational vertiport by 2022 with the longer term aim of establishing regular BVLOS cargo and passenger services in the region (via, Skyports):

Speaking of Skyports, they signed yet another another MoU this week - this one with Korea’s Hanwha Systems for the provision of ‘operational technologies for vertiports’ - such as navigation systems, and charging installations (via Aju Business Daily).

Roland Berger published the transcript from an interesting interview with Joby Executive Chairman (and founder of Pinterest) Paul Sciarra - covering many different topics from his early involvement in the company to the Uber Elevate acquisition and vehicle certification (via Roland Berger).

Automotive supplier DENSO signed a long-term agreement with Honeywell to collaborate on electric propulsion units for the UAM market with first flight test configurations expected to be delivered “within the next year” (via Intelligent Aerospace).


🔋 BATTERY-ELECTRIC ⚡️ A new documentary on electric flight was released in the US this week by PBS - the ‘Great Electric Airplane Race’. And with glimpses behind the doors of many a publicity shy electric flight startup, it’s well worth a watch over the weekend (via PBS): Bye Aerospace - who recently announced their eFlyer 800 - said the recent bankruptcy of their battery supplier - the UK’s Oxis Energy - has not derailed their projected timelines… (via Aviation Week).

🌱 SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL 🛢 Ryanair announced a target of using SAF on 12.5% of flights by 2030, this comes a week after British Airways announced their own target of 10% (via Global Banking and Finance Review).

✈️ OTHER SUSTAINABLE AVIATION NEWS 🌱 Hybrid Air Vehicles have claimed that for short-haul, inter-city travel their Airlander 10 airship could save approximately 90% of emissions over current aircraft technology with little impact on trip times. They also showed off renders of a pretty sweet looking lounge-like interior (via Industry Leaders):

A new report by Transport & Environment into the emissions created by private jet travel makes for some interesting reading. The report estimates £325 million could be generated by taxing the as yet untaxed fuel usage of these flights - and flying private is 10 times more polluting than flying commercial (via Independent).

Eurocontrol hosted a stakeholder forum on airport electrification (via Eurocontrol).


🎮 BVLOS 🔭 Skyports are adopting a situational awareness system provided by Kongsberg Geospatial. The ‘IRIS’ is an all-in-one airspace, flight path, weather, communications and aircraft separation ‘fleet control solution’. We expect to see more such solutions come to market as civilian remote operators begin to routinely control multiple aircraft simultaneously (via UAS Weekly):

🔍 INSPECTION 📏 Singapore's National Water Agency (PUB) are expecting to save 5,000 man-hours-per-year by deploying just six drone-in-a-box monitoring and surveillance systems, at six reservoirs. The locally produced systems will relay information via a telegram setup to notify remote operators of water quality, plant growth and illegal activity using a system recently seen monitoring Singapore’s southern island infrastructure in Airborne: Reborn XXX (via Mothership):

👩‍💻 AIRSPACE MANAGEMENT 🗼 UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) provider Aquarius will be integrating their technology with detect-and-avoid systems developed by the National Research Council of Canada. Aquarius says it is ‘the first company to develop a system that integrates detect-and-avoid with traffic management’ (via Drone DJ).

The Australian Department of Infrastructure released their ‘National Strategic Airspace: National Aviation Policy Issues Paper’ (catchy title, eh?) with a request for feedback on how to develop airspace management and regulation for the future, with a near-term focus on UTM (via Mirage).

🚁 DRONE DELIVERY 📦 ANRA Technologies recently launched their ‘SmartSkies DELIVERY’ solution. It connects pretty much every actor involved in an aerial logistics ecosystem, aiming to provide and end-to-end platform solution (via sUAS News):


🚀 LAUNCH 🌎 The UK moved a step closer to becoming the first European nation to have regular launch capability on their own soil. The Space Industry Regulations (developed by the CAA and UK Space Agency) look set to get the green light this Summer following their tabling in the House of Commons this week (via eeNews).

There is however competition with the Swedes, who are also claiming pole position for Europe’s first orbital launch site. North of the Arctic Circle, Esrange Space Center already has ISAR Aerospace Technologies and Rocket Factory Augsburg as customers and boasts both high school and university space programmes in nearby Luleå (via Architectural Digest & The New York Times).

Hot on the heels of the announcement from the UK government Volodymyr Levykin (Ukrainian national and CEO of Skyrora) has said his company will be ready in 2022 to launch their Skyora XL (a 23m, 56-tonne three-stage-to-orbit launcher) and their space-tug (via The Edinburgh Reporter):

⭐️ MEGA CONSTELLATIONS ⛓ China’s global internet connectivity constellation plans are becoming clearer, with a new state-owned-enterprise (SOE) - the China Satellite Network Group (CSNG) - being formed. This follows an International Telecommunications Union filing back in September 2020 for a 12,992 low earth orbit (LEO) constellation. The ‘Guowang Constellation’ / China SatNet seems to have succeeded two previously announced constellations. China’s most recent five year plan calls for an integrated network of communications, Earth observation and navigation satellites (via Space News):

Staying in China, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) have put out a notice to commercial satellite developers with guidelines for small sat development (via Space News).

Austria’s RUAG Space will dispense OneWeb’s 200th satellite on Friday using their tasty 36-bay rideshare dispenser pictured below (via SatNews):

SpaceX deployed another 60 Starlink satellites on Wednesday to complete their first orbital shell (a collection of satellites orbiting at the same altitude). As they gradually make their way to their final orbits over the next few months we will see 1,584 satellites orbiting at 550km above earth (via NASA).

🛰 SPACE INFRASTRUCTURE 🌉 The European Space Agency this week announced the participants of their lunar positioning and communications programme dubbed ‘Moonlight’, first launched last year. Initially two consortia will be working in competition on the project. Surrey Satellite Technology will take the lead on a Moon telecoms system in conjunction with Airbus and SES Techom, while connectivity to earth is handled by Kongsberg Satellite Services and the UK's Goonhilly Earth Station. Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space make up the second consortia and will conduct a study on the architecture of the required systems. Last year NASA announced a similar program (via DCD):

🌎 EARTH OBSERVATION 👀 Cubesat solutions provider ISISPACE (we might be inclined to change that name...) have penned a contract with fellow Dutch ‘RF Reconnaissance-as-a-service’ company Kleos to supply a third, four-satellite cluster to low earth orbit (via Space Daily):

Chile have announced a ten-strong mini / micro-satellite ‘national system’ to provide a range of monitoring and observation capabilities. Israeli consortium ISI Imagesat will construct the satellites and provide technology transfer services while the launch provider is SpaceX. Chile also announced a national space centre to be ready for 2022 (via bnamericas).

🌙 LUNAR TECHNOLOGY 👩‍🚀 In response to previous NASA requests for lunar rover ideas, General Motors (GM) and Lockheed Martin have announced a partnership to work on ‘Lunar Mobility’ (future newsletter section? 🤔) . Lockheed will be leading the team and will leverage their expertise in lunar landers and deep space probes with GM bringing electric and autonomous vehicle know-how (via The Detroit News):


🌎 IN OTHER NEWS 🛠 After the sudden collapse of supersonic upstart Aerion there is much remaining to be asked of the sector. This piece by Murdo Morrison for FlightGlobal dives deeper (via FlightGlobal). Tesla reportedly holds a contract with Luminar Technologies for testing and development of LIDAR units. Founder Elon Musk has to-date quite publicly dismissed the use of LIDAR for self driving cars (via Bloomberg).

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