MARKET UPDATE - 03/05/2022 - ⚡️ ELECTRIC ✈️ AVIATION
EVTOL / ADVANCED / URBAN AIR MOBILITY (UAM / AAM)
BETA TECHNOLOGIES | LCI
Dublin-based aircraft lessor (and Libra Group subsidiary) LCI placed a deposit-backed, "committed order" for 50 Beta ALIA-250 eVTOL aircraft. The deal includes an option to purchase up to 75 more, for a total of up to 125 aircraft:
AIRBUS | ITA AIRWAYS
Airbus are partnering with Italian state-owned flag carrier ITA Airways (founded in October 2021) on Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in the Italian market, with focus on potential CityAirbus NextGen operations:
Beta Technologies closed a $375m round of Series B funding led by California's TPG Rise Climate fund (an offshoot of Texas private equity firm TPG who founded it alongside PayPal President and billionaire Jeff Skoll & Bono). They invested alongside Fidelity Investment Management & Research who led Beta's $368m Series A less than a year ago.
This latest cash injection brings total funds raised to date to $796m. The money will be used to:
"...accelerate growth and operations as [Beta] progresses toward FAA certification of ALIA. Specifically, to continue to refine its electric propulsion systems and controls, advance testing of its two ALIA prototypes, and expand its charging infrastructure."
(via The Rise Fund).
JAPAN CIVIL AVIATION BUREAU | SKYDRIVE
SkyDrive announced they'd reached agreement with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) - which falls under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (or MLIT) - on a type certification basis for the company's SD-05 two-seat "flying car".
The vehicle will be certified under JCAB's Airworthiness Inspection Manual (AIM) Part II which specifies conditions for aircraft with up to 19 passengers:
DENSO | HONEYWELL
In their year-end review Japan's Denso noted that the company would be "expanding its alliance with Honeywell to develop, test, and fly electric propulsion systems for the urban air mobility segment":
JAUNT AIR MOBILITY | L&T TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
India's L&T Technology Services (NSE: LTTS) secured a multi-year contract (reportedly worth $100m+) to support Jaunt Air Mobility in development of their Jaunt Journey aircraft (latest specs suggest a 175mph cruise, 80-120 mile range). The deal includes the establishment of an R&D facility in Quebec, Canada:
(via L&T Technology Services).
MAGNOMATICS | CARBON THREESIXTY
The UK's Magnomatics unveiled a "lightweight, air-cooled propulsion motor suitable for the rapidly growing urban air mobility (UAM) sector." They're seeking to further reduce weight of the 86kW, 30Nm/kg unit in partnership with Carbon ThreeSixty through innovative use of composites.
The company's 'magnetic gearing' technology is reckoned by NASA to be particularly suited to eVTOL applications, and the Sheffield based team are working to iterate upon their patented 'pseudo direct drive' - "which is an outer stator magnetically geared motor (OMSGM)" - technology, which to date has been used in applications such as wind turbines and marine propulsion:
(via Composites World).
PIVA CAPITAL | PRELUDE VENTURES | PYKA
Autonomous crop-spraying aircraft developer Pyka raised $37m USD in new funding in a round led by Piva Capital and Prelude Ventures. The company has a reported backlog of $320m in MoU / other agreements, but the funding will also be used to develop a new aircraft - similar to the company's existing 'Pelican' which uses LIDAR for collision and terrain avoidance - but modified "for 200-mile radius cargo operations":
"Forward propulsion is handled by an efficient 90 kW multifuel turboprop engine, which also recharges the batteries for the rotors in flight. In forward flight, lift is provided by a small cord wing and airflow through the rotors like an autogyro. Managed autorotation enables ATLIS to maintain lift and flight control by varying rotor RPMs while still drawing net zero battery power. Cruising speed is 100 miles per hour.
ATLIS is designed to provide time-critical delivery of cargo straight to the point-of-need in places with undeveloped, limited or damaged infrastructure. The internal cargo bay is 40 cubic feet, and the tail opens for easy loading and unloading."
(via PR Newswire).
Vertical Aerospace released their first shareholder letter and annual report through a Form 20-F SEC filing, which included 32 pages of risks that could potentially have an adverse on impact the company's progress against targets / forecasts.
The company also revealed that they've:
Employed former EASA certification director Trevor Woods to head up their Regulatory Affairs division
Reached agreement with EASA and the UK CAA for simultaneous certification and validation of their VX4 aircraft
And that they expect to receive Design Organisation Approval (DOA) in the UK later this year
Joby Aviation announced that they'd be reviving Uber's Elevate Summit (having absorbed the ride sharing giant's eVTOL division as part of a deal in 2020). The event will take place at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, NY on October 12-13th. Joby are set to release Q1 '22 financial results after market close on May 12th:
(via Joby Aviation).
ARCHER AVIATION | UNITED AIRLINES
Archer Aviation announced the establishment of an advisory committee together with their customer and investor United Airlines to share "expertise on maintenance and operational matters" (via Archer).
VERTIPORTS / INFRASTRUCTURE
SUPERNAL | URBAN-AIR PORT
Urban-Air Port's 'Air-One' prototype vertiport was unveiled in the UK. The 17,000 sq ft venue took 11 weeks to build and includes a "platform that raises 19 feet in the sky – using a compact, state-of-the-art, synchronized link-lift system – to enable future electric air vehicle takeoffs and landings"
(via PR Newswire).
DYMOND GROUP | M7 | URBAN-AIR PORT
Urban-Air Port (UAP) also announced two new investors:
- Canadian risk management / security outfit Dymond Group (who "will order two of UAP's "AirOne vertiports for deployment in Canada") and
- UK headquartered, pan-European investment fund M7 Real Estate whose eye is firmly on logistics drones
UAP at the same time touted another new concept, the so-called 'Docks Box':
"A specialist solution designed to seamlessly integrate with existing logistics networks to add urban air mobility to the supply chain through the addition of Logistics Drones. Docks Box utilises the existing loading docks of warehouses, distribution centres and fulfilment centres to “plug-in” air mobility in a completely modular and unintrusive way with little-to-no disruption to existing operations. The units are flexible, movable and scalable."
Vancouver's Harbour Air are taking external advice from a consulting firm (unconfirmed as L&A Energy Consulting) to identify charging requirements for their MagniX powered ePlanes (converted DHC-2 Beavers) for the next decade. They're investigating options that include chargers with their own battery packs which can handle input rates as low as 25KW whilst offering eg. a 150KW output for replenishing aircraft batteries. Weight constraints for the company's floating sea/floatplane docks are an additional constraint.
The company's second ePlane is delayed (owing to design changes and supply chain backlogs delaying components) with first flight now expected in late 2023:
(via Harbour Air).
NASA Aeronautics' Armstrong Flight Research Center released new content outlining their vision for vertiport infrastructure. Initiatives operating as part of the agency's Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) mission include a High Density Vertiplex (HDV) project a System-Wide Safety initiative, the National Campaign's 'Mobile Vertipad System'. and a Community Integration working group:
Ferrovial made two key appointments to their vertiports division - Bob Montgomery joins after 40+ years at Southwest Airlines, and takes on responsibility for new business, lease negotiation and site acquisition. Meanwhile Brad Miller comes from Manchester Airports Group and will oversee "development of the network of vertiports in the United Kingdom and Spain that [have] already been announced" (via Ferrovial).
SMALL PROPELLER, COMMUTER (19-SEATS OR LESS)
DIAMOND AIRCRAFT | SAFRAN ELECTRICAL & POWER
Chinese-owned Diamond Aircraft have selected Safran Electrical & Power's 130kW, air-cooled ENGINeUS 100 electric motors for use in their eDA40 aircraft, which the company claim will be "the first EASA/FAA Part 23 certified electric airplane with Direct Current (DC) fast charging":
(via Diamond Aircraft).
California's Ampaire announced that ground testing of the propulsion system for their hybrid-electric Eco Caravan (a Cessna Grand Caravan conversion) had begun at Hawthorne Airport in Los Angeles this month. Noting that the company had "decided to move forward as an independent company" it seems as though a previously announced acquisition by aerial ridesharing platform Surf Air has fallen through:
VoltAero's Cassio 1 - featuring a 600KW implementation of the company's proprietary parallel-electric hybrid powertrain - clocked up a total of over 10,00km flown, after ferrying down to the AERO Friedrichshafen general aviation expo in Germany.
The company expect to assemble a production prototype of their 4-5 seat Cassio 330 by year-end and to break ground on a new production facility (also for the six-seat Cassio 480 and 10-12 seat Cassio 600) at Rochefort Airport, France - this summer. The company envisage producing up to 150 aircraft per year from the facility:
Apus' design for their twin-motor, i-2 hydrogen fuel cell powered four-seater was on show at AERO Friedrichshafen, including the certified design organisation's novel hydrogen storage method; which stores the fuel in tubular wing spars:
CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY | THE LIGHT AIRCRAFT COMPANY
The Light Aircraft Company (TLAC) in the UK released footage of the first flight of their 'eKub' single-seat electric aircraft developed with / at Cranfield University:
REGIONAL AIRCRAFT / MW+
AEROTEC | AIR TINDI | MAGNIX | NASA
Some more details emerged on the effort to convert a DHC Dash 7 airframe to hybrid-electric propulsion as part of NASA's Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project. Using an airframe supplied by Canada's Air Tindi, AeroTec in Seattle will design, convert and flight test the aircraft, which will be powered by two PT6 turbine engines and two Magni650 electric propulsion Units (EPUs) from MagniX. First flight is expected in 2025 (via PR Newswire).
EASYJET | GKN AEROSPACE
EasyJet announced a partnership with GKN Aerospace that will support accelerated development of Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology through the H2GEAR project (as well as Hydrogen Combustion through H2JET). The airline will "provide insights into operational requirements and economics":
BAE SYSTEMS | GE AVIATION
GE Aviation have selected BAE Systems to supply energy management technologies for their MW- class hybrid-electric contribution to NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project. The deal covers supply not just of power storage but also "high-integrity controls and cables for the demonstrator’s power management system, which will be tested on CT7-9B turboprop engines":
(via BAE Systems).
US AIR FORCE | WRIGHT ELECTRIC
Wright Electric's 2MW generator has been selected by the US Air Force's AFWERX programme for evaluation as a battlefield charger for electric vehicles. The unit is reportedly scalable up to 15MW and "can be airdrop rated":
(via Wright Electric).