ANALYSIS: AURA AERO & ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS
The startup electric aircraft manufacturer (backed by French Venture Capital fund Innovacom) have plans for a 19-seat regional electric airliner or 'ERA', renders of which you can see in the video below:
Though still not even a full-scale prototype of this aircraft is known to have been produced, a Letter of Intent to order 200 of the aircraft has been signed with Amedeo (Press Release). The Dublin-based aircraft asset manager have some $7 billion of Assets Under Management (AUM) and work with major industry players including Airbus, Boeing, Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Sichuan Airlines to name but a few. In short - they are a significant and credible company.
Aura have another large and credible partner in Verkor - a young French venture that aspires to build a so-called 'gigafactory' for the production of lithium-ion batteries. They too have quite some backing, having raised €100m in funding in 2021 and counting Renault, Capgemini, EQT Ventures and Schneider Electric amongst their investors (Press Release).
This is all very well but the short-term goals for the electric aircraft company are more modest, their first aircraft on course to be certified with an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and feature just two seats - the Integral:
Once certified with EASA the Integral E electrified variant will come next - a pragmatic approach, already yielding results. This (proposed) aircraft also has an active order book. Slovakian aviation finance company Aelis Group (regional turboprop and ATR specialists) signed an LOI which included an order for up to 10 of the aircraft in June 2021 (Press Release).
It appears that the Verkor partnership won't yield usable cells in time for this smaller aerobatic training aircraft at least, an announcement having been made in January 2022 that at least the ground and flight test Integral E aircraft will be powered by Electric Power Systems EPiC battery system (Press Release).
The Utah-based powertrain and energy storage system developer founded in 2016 don't just produce batteries, but also power electronics and fast-charging solutions. The company has financial backing from both Boeing and Safran, both of whom have board seats, and though the value is undisclosed, reach of the corporate VC funds' contributions are reported to be amongst the largest either had made to date (Press Release).
Publicly acknowledge EPS customers, using the company's modular EPiC power system include:
...as well as the Boeing Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV) :
Reported to have first heard of Electric Power Systems via their collaboration with NASA on the X-57 (see below) and originally used it in their own Sun Flyer prototype aircraft, which would evolve into their eFlyer range:
Collaborating on the electric variant of DA40 (Press Release). The eDA40 will feature EPS' DC fast charging technology, with later variants expected to have 90 minutes of endurance. Aimed specifically at the flight training market - first flight is expected in Q2 2022, with certification to follow in 2023. Worth noting that both the Canadian subsidiary and now Austrian parent are wholly owned subsidiaries of China's Wanfeng Aviation Industry (Press Release) - itself a subsidiary of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange listed Wanfeng Auto Holding Group (002085.SZ) - a diversified Chinese conglomerate with over 60 subsidiaries:
Announced August 2021 (Press Release) that EPS technology was featured in the electric prototype of the company's EMB-203 'Ipanema' agricultural crop sprayer:
Worked with Electric Power Systems on development of their early core battery technology in their X-57 Maxwell flight demonstrator aircraft, expected to fly for the first time soon in California (where EPS were originally founded). The original pack didn't get through thermal runaway testing, with a later design, inspired by batteries used on the International Space Station, using aluminium cell separators: