MARKET UPDATE - 20/04/2022 - ⚡️ ELECTRIC ✈️ AVIATION
EVTOL / ADVANCED / URBAN AIR MOBILITY (UAM / AAM)
EHANG | PRESTIGE AVIATION
China's eHang received their largest single pre-order to date, signing a deal for the supply of 100 x EH216 'AAVs' with Indonesian Prestige Corp subsidiary Prestige Aviation - who have a particular eye on using the vehicles for inter-island transport. It follows the purchase of a single aircraft of the same type by Prestige, alongside a flight demonstration in Bali, in Nov '21 (via eHang).
LOBO LEASING | PIPISTREL
Ireland's Lobo Leasing placed an order for 15 x Nuuva V300 "autonomous cargo hVTOL aircraft" from Pipistrel. The vehicle has a 3 cubic metre / 460kg / 3 x Euro-pallet payload capacity and a range of up to 400km.
The deal also includes a partnership agreement that will see the two parties "collaborate to build and connect a base of operators and investors":
HYUNDAI | HYUNDAI E&C | IGIS ASSET MANAGEMENT
Hyundai Engineering & Construction (E&C), Hyundai Motor Co. and IGIS Asset Management (South Korea's largest real estate investor) are collaborating on a vertiport project at the Millenium Hilton Seoul in the centre of the Korean capital. The hotel was acquired by IGIS last year and is close to the central high speed train terminus, as well as train lines linking to Incheon and Gimpo airports.
The companies will collaborate on further vertiport developments, dividing responsibilities as follows:
Site selection and business model development - IGIS
Vertiport construction - Hyundai E&C
Development and commercialisation of aircraft - Hyundai Motor Co.
(via Korea Economic Daily).
KINETSU GROUP | SKYDRIVE
Kinetsu Group - owner-operators of Japan's largest privately owned rail network, the Kinetsu Railway, as well as a diverse portfolio of 127 subsidiaries engaged in tourism, real estate, visitor attractions and hospitality - invested ¥500m ($4m USD) into eVTOL developer SkyDrive.
The organisations will work together to have "flying cars" operational at the 2025 Expo, including in Osaka and Ise-Shima where Kinetsu operate rail services. As well as connecting UAM
to railway services the two organisations will "also be looking at community development with respect to flying car takeoff and landing facilities and enhancing the appeal of tourist sites by adding flying cars for sightseeing and leisure purposes":
NANKAI ELECTRIC RAILWAY | SKYDRIVE
SkyDrive also signed a partnership agreement with Nankai Electric Railway, operators of a railway line running between Osaka and Wakayama. "Studies will be conducted on the possible routes that the air taxi services might utilize. There is also thought being given to Nankai’s role in marketing and offering ticket sales services, providing for the maintenance for vertiports, as well as the future split in costs and revenues."
EVE URBAN AIR MOBILITY | THALES
Embraer's Eve Urban Air Mobility have entered into a strategic partnership with France's Thales:
"The strategic partnership involves a series of joint studies over a twelve-month period, which started in January 2022, on the technical, economical, and adaptable feasibility of a 100% electrically powered aircraft. Thales will also contribute with its expertise in developing avionics, electric, flight control, navigation, communication, and connectivity systems."
ARCHER AVIATION | HEXCEL
Archer Aviation signed a letter of intent with NYSE-listed Hexcel (HXL) for the future supply of "high-performance carbon fiber material" and resins (prepreg) for eVTOL aircraft production (via Archer, Hexcel).
On April 7th Archer Aviation announced that one of the company's co-founder / co-CEOs - Brett Adcock - would depart his role but remain on the board, whilst Adam Goldstein would assume the role of sole CEO (via Archer).
Wisk CEO Gary Gysin, in conversation with American broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper for a recent eVTOL focused episode of 60 Minutes, confirmed that the company's sixth generation autonomous eVTOL aircraft will have four passenger seats:
"The larger seat configuration provides more space for passengers and baggage, while allowing us to ensure that we’re creating a service that is accessible for those with disabilities. In addition to these benefits, our 6th generation aircraft’s larger capacity opens the door to future use cases. Higher payloads and cabin volume will better support other applications and use cases long term."
SKYPORTS | WISK
British vertiport developer Skyports and Boeing-backed US eVTOL aircraft manufacturer Wisk announced a partnership that'll see the companies work together on "defining autonomous eVTOL vertiport operations".
"The partnership is evaluating core areas, including physical aircraft considerations (functions, capabilities, requirements, interfaces, and support), passenger accommodation, schedule management, ground operations management, final approach and takeoff management, navigational aids, situational awareness, contingency management, and airspace design."
The companies released a Concept of Operations (ConOps) for 'Autonomous UAM Aircraft Operations and Vertiport Integration':
Switzerland's Dufour Aerospace are establishing a base of operations in Montreal, Canada. The location will focus on building up a software engineering team to support development of the company's Aero2 and Aero3 tilt-wing eVTOL aircraft (via Dufour Aerospace).
EASA | LILIUM
A class action lawsuit was filed against Lilium in California claiming that the company:
"...made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Lilium materially overstated the Lilium Jet's design and capabilities; (2) Lilium materially overstated the likelihood for the Lilium Jet's timely certification; (3) Lilium misrepresented its ability to obtain or create the necessary batteries for the Lilium Jet; (4) the merger with Qell would not and did not generate enough cash to commercially launch the Lilium Jet; (5) Qell Acquisition Corp. did not engage in proper due diligence regarding the merger; and (6) as a result, Defendants' public statements and statements to journalists were materially false and/or misleading at all relevant times."
(via PR Newswire).
Honeywell unveiled the latest version of their IntuVue RDR-84K radar system at their soon to open Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) lab in California. The autonomous detect-and-avoid capability that the system enables is sold as providing "Traffic, terrain, obstacle detection, navigation and landing guidance for manned aircraft and UAVs".
Expected to be used on delivery drones by 2025, the RDR-84K - which can track up to 30 moving targets simultaneously at distances up to 3km, and is remotely re-configurable - has also been selected by Airflow for use on their eSTOL aircraft:
(via Aviation Today)
SKYWAY | TRANSOFT SOLUTIONS
California's Skyway Technologies (UAM air traffic management specialists) are partnering with Transoft Solutions (aviation and civil infrastructure software developers) to offer vertiport planning, design and simulation tools ( via GlobeNewswire).
SMALL PROPELLER, COMMUTER (19-SEATS OR LESS)
CAPE AIR | EVIATION
US commuter airline Cape Air signed an LOI with Eviation for the purchase of 75 Alice aircraft which are expected to be deployed on routes in the US Northeast, Midwest, Montana and in the Caribbean. It firms up the detail of a deal first talked about in 2019:
Eviation's Alice was also featured in a report by the Today programme in connection with the news:
AURA AERO | SAFRAN ELECTRICAL & POWER
Safran announced on April 7th that Safran Electrical & Power will work with Aura Aero "on the architecture and electric propulsion systems of two aircraft: the INTEGRAL E training aircraft and the ERA (Electric Regional Aircraft)."
The companies will also collaborate on "electrical architecture studies for ERA" - Aura's proposed 19-seat electric regional passenger / cargo aircraft (claimed 1,000nm range @ max payload, 300kts cruise, first flight slated for 2024, entry into service 2027):
In very sad news Aura Aero confirmed just a few days later on April 12th that two of the company's pilots - world aerobatic champions Baptiste Vignes (37) and Simon de la Bretèche (40) - had been killed in an incident involving one of the company's (conventionally powered) Integral R prototype aircraft F-WJMK. Media reports claimed that the airframe parachute was found in a deployed state next to the wreckage:
ELECTRIC POWER SYSTEMS | SAFRAN ELECTRICAL & POWER
Safran doubled down on their investment in Utah's aviation energy storage specialists Electric Power Systems. The French conglomerate's Safran Electrical & Power subsidiary signed an MoU with the American company that'll see the organisations deepen cooperation "to offer the most competitive components on the market for an optimized electric propulsion system...from supplying individual pieces of equipment within the electrical systems to delivering turnkey full electrical systems":
PIPISTREL | TEXTRON
Textron noted that it had closed on its acquisition of Pipistrel, the company becoming a part of the parent company's newest business segment - 'Textron eAviation', of which Rob Scholl was named President and CEO.
"Pipistrel will remain a distinct aviation brand within Textron, alongside the company’s already established Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell brands. Its headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing will remain in Slovenia and Italy, where Textron plans to make additional investments to expand manufacturing and product development capabilities.
Under the terms of the transaction, Textron purchased Pipistrel for a cash purchase price of approximately €218 million. Pipistrel’s founder and CEO, Ivo Boscarol, will remain a minority shareholder of Pipistrel with an approximately 10 percent interest for a two-year period, during which he will advise on future product plans and strategies. The cash purchase price includes the amount for which his minority interest will be purchased at the end of the two-year period."
AFFINITY FLYING TRAINING | MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (UK)
(via Affinity FTS).
H2FLY believe that their HY4 hydrogen fuel cell demonstrator aircraft "set a new world record...for hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft, flying at an altitude of 7,230 feet." They also assert that a 77-mile cross country flight from Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen marked "the first time a hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft has been piloted, between two major airports" (via H2FLY).
Norwegian startup Elfly, supported by $1.8m of grant funding, have begun testing of their X-10 Byfly electric seaplane concept's hull design at the SINTEF tow tank in Trondheim. The full-scale aircraft is targeting a cruise speed of 250km/h, 200km range with one hour of endurance (plus reserve) and a 9-passenger capacity. Journey times from Bergen to Stavanger could then theoretically be cut down from 4-5 hours to just 40 minutes.
The team behind it had a scale model flying last year (see video below), are the Scandinavian distributors for Bye Aerospace and partners in the Nordic Air Racing team:
(via The Maritime Executive).
REGIONAL AIRCRAFT / MW+
AKG GROUP | BAUHAUS LUFTFAHRT | DEUTSCHE AIRCRAFT | DIEHL AEROSPACE | DLR | GE AVIATION | H2FLY | HS ELEKTRONIK | IABG | PREMIUM AEROTEC
A consortium of partners (including AKG Group, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Deutsche Aircraft, Diehl Aerospace, GE Aviation, H2Fly, HS Elektronik, IABG, and Premium AEROTEC) led by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) will work on a 1.5MW hydrogen fuel cell hybrid-electric conversion of a Dornier 328.
The '328H2-FC' project has €30m of German government grant funding and is expected to open up "a technological perspective for future regional aircraft in the 40-seater class". First flight is expected by 2025: