MARKET UPDATE - 31/05/2022 - ⚡️ ELECTRIC ✈️ AVIATION
EVTOL / ADVANCED / URBAN AIR MOBILITY (UAM / AAM)
DENSO | HONEYWELL | LILIUM
DENSO and Honeywell announced that they will co-develop and manufacture the electric motors for Lilium's eVTOL 'electric jet'. The 4kg units, under development for two years, consist of rotor and stator in radial configuration, weigh 4kg each and have a reported output of 100kW (via DENSO, Honeywell, Lilium).
AERNNOVA | LILIUM
LILIUM | LIVENT
Lithium producers Livent will work with Lilium "on the advancement of lithium metal technology for use in high-performance battery cells" as part of an announced R&D collaboration (via Lilium, Livent).
Lilium announced the filing of 37 new patent applications with the European Patent Office:
"These are engineering inventions for the core technology around the Lilium Jet, spanning several domains: Energy, Propulsion, Structures and Interior, Avionics and Custom Electric, with Lilium focusing more than 70% of its patents on Energy and Propulsion."
SAFRAN | TCAB TECH
TCabTech have selected Safran's ENGINeUS 100 electric motors for use in their 5-seat E20 eVTOL aircraft. The six supplied power units are expected to give the craft a range of 200km and 260kph cruise speed. Certification of the aircraft from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is anticipated by 2025:
AVIONYX | JOBY AVIATION
Joby Aviation acquired Costa Rican software development and validation company Avionyx - aerospace specialists with whom they have been working since last year. A Vehicle Software Integration Lab (VSIL) will be setup in San Jose, Costa Rica giving the new subsidiary access to the same flight simulation and hardware emulation capabilities as Joby's existing facility in Marina, CA (via Joby Aviation).
Joby also announced that the FAA had granted the company a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate (via Joby Aviation).
ELECTRA AERO | OVERAIR | NASA | SUPERNAL
NASA announced new participants in their Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign, including Electra Aero, OverAir and Supernal. The companies will now have the opportunity to exchange information "about their vehicles, processes, traffic management systems, infrastructure, and capabilities" with NASA in preparation for the second phase of the programme which will include "flight test demonstrations and simulations, as well as systems and operations analysis at test sites around the country" (via NASA).
MICROSOFT | VOLOCOPTER
Building on a collaboration first revealed in 2020, Volocopter announced that they intend to use Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform for their VoloIQ 'UAM operating system'. The system is planned to encompass an ambitiously broad range of functions for all of Voloctoper's drone and passenger flight operations, including:
Booking and e-commerce
Operational network planning
Airspace digital twins
Vehicle data logging and analysis
VERTIPORTS / INFRASTRUCTURE
AIOI NISSAY DOWA | KANEMATSU CORP | PARK24 | SKYPORTS
Skyports signed an MoU with Japan's largest parking and car share operator PARK24 that will see the organisations work together to explore integration of vertiport infrastructure into the company's assets and network.
Signatories to the deal also include Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance (a subsidiary of Mitsui Group - backers of Volocopte, majority owned by Toyota and one of Japan's largest keiretsu) and Kanematsu Corporation (investors in Skyports' Series B funding round).
The parties will "conduct joint investigative work, including feasibility assessments, in Kansai Region, particularly in Osaka, and other locations to establish which of PARK24’s parking lots are suitable for vertiport infrastructure development. The vertiports will serve as take-off and landing nodes for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft, while also doubling up as dedicated charging sites."
JETEX | VOLOCOPTER
Further to a collaboration with Eve (announced in November) Jetex announced the signing of an MoU with Volocopter. The companies will research the "most popular routes" for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in Miami, Singapore and Paris. They plan to "deploy and operate permanent, economically sustainable, and integrated UAM taxi take-off and landing infrastructure and services for passenger transportation" with operations planned from 2024:
AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL
Airport Council International (ACI) - the global trade association for airports - published a policy brief on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), setting out their vision for how eVTOL vehicles can be integrated into the airport environment:
"Expected market and regulatory developments are covered in the policy brief as well as considerations for airport operators and policy makers in the areas of safety and security, master planning, sustainability and public acceptance, revenue generation, unmanned traffic management, cargo operations, and customer experience."
ADVANCED AVIATION INFRASTRUCTURE MODERNIZATION ACT
The bi-partisan Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization Act was introduced in the US Senate, seeking to establish a pot of grant funding to support pilot programmes related to Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure, including vertiports (via Aviation Pros).
SMALL PROPELLER, COMMUTER (19-SEATS OR LESS)
AEROTEC | MAGNIX | SURF AIR MOBILITY
Surf Air Mobility signed contracts with AeroTEC and MagniX to develop and certify both hybrid-electric and fully electric conversions of Textron's Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, for which the company signed an exclusive agreement last year.
"[Surf Air Mobility] plans to develop supplemental type certificates (“STC”) for its proprietary electrification solutions, powered by magniX’s market-leading electric propulsion units (“EPUs”). AeroTEC will provide engineering, testing, program management, and certification expertise to support design, development, and FAA Certification. magniX and AeroTEC have successfully flown a fully-electric Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, demonstrating the technology and proving the feasibility of the future of electrified air travel."
(via Surf Air).
SOUTHERN AIRWAYS | SURF AIR MOBILITY
Surf Air also announced that they were acquiring / merging with commuter airline Southern Airways - the largest operator of Cessna Caravan aircraft in North America.
"Southern Airways sees the regional routes between 50 and 500 miles that we’re currently flying as the quickest, most practical solution for bringing electric air travel to market."
(via Surf Air).
SURF AIR MOBILITY | TUSCAN HOLDINGS CORP
Lastly Surf Air Mobility announced that the company is to go public via a SPAC merger with the Tuscan Holdings Corp. II blank cheque company in a deal valuing the combined business at $1.4bn USD and theoretically providing up to $467m in new funds. The press release also noted a partnership with Fixed Base Operator (FBO) specialists Signature Aviation, initially to support and market hybrid flights powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), but later to work together on the build-out of electric charging infrastructure (via Surf Air).
VOLTAERO | POWER UP
VoltAero launched a fractional ownership model for their forthcoming Cassio 330 parallel hybrid-electric aircraft at EBACE. Inviting expressions of interest for ownership stakes in their five-seat aircraft, the company also suggested that the programme would subsequently be expanded to their six-seat Cassio 480 and 10-12 seat Cassio 600
VoltAero also announced a week of upcoming demonstration flights, based out of Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands, in partnership with the Dutch 'Power Up' initiative. Four of the country's regional airports (Eindhoven, Rotterdam The Hague, Groningen Airport Eelde and Maastricht Aachen) together with support from Schiphol Group are working on "stimulating the introduction of electric Regional Air Mobility (eRAM) in the Netherlands."
The flights will "include analyses of operational costs, noise performance, ground infrastructure requirements and technical support for the future use of Cassio family aircraft by commercial aviation operators" (via VoltAero).
Early stage German startup Vaeridion, founded in just 2021, have reportedly already raised €3.2m of venture capital funding to develop their 11-seat (9 passenger) 'micro liner' electric aircraft concept, with a claimed 500km range:
(via Auto Evolution).
BAE SYSTEMS | PIPISTREL
Following a previously announced collaboration to explore military applications of the company's electric aircraft, BAE Systems have taken delivery of a Pipistrel Velis Electro and are set to commence flight testing in the UK:
(via Aviation Week).
AIRBUS | DAHER | SAFRAN
Daher CEO Didier Kayat announced at EBACE in Geneva that the EcoPulse demonstrator aircraft had been powered up at the company's facility in Tarbes, France ahead of "flight evaluations this year". Project responsibilities are as follows:
Airbus - developing 350kW/350kg main battery system, aerodynamic and acoustic integration of distributed propulsion system, development of flight control computer
Daher - flight / airworthiness testing, analysis and coordination of test results
Safran - supply of electric motors, oversight of distributed hybrid propulsion system integration
REGIONAL AIRCRAFT / MW+
ATR announced plans for the 'EVO' family of aircraft - next generation, hybrid-electric versions of their regional aircraft. The company said a Request for Information (RFI) had already been issued to "the main engine manufacturers for the development of the new powerplant" ahead of a planned programme launch in 2023 for entry into service "by 2030":
H55 | PRATT & WHITNEY CANADA
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) selected Swiss Solar Impulse spin-off company H55 to supply the battery pack for the company's hybrid-electric flight demonstrator aircraft, based on a modified Dash 8 airframe.
Other partners on the project include:
National Research Council Canada (NRC) - who'll support development of the high voltage battery sub-systems and
The Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI) - integration of the battery and control systems
MHIRJ | ZEROAVIA
ZeroAvia's collaboration with MHIRJ (first announced in 12/21) has progressed, with the companies announcing plans to collaboratively offer a retrofit option on the CRJ Series of regional jet aircraft using a 'ZA2000RJ' derivative of ZeroAvia's in-development ZA2000 2-5MW modular powertrain.
MHIRG will support certification of the hydrogen-electric powertrain through provision of "engineering services, aircraft integration, and its industry renowned OEM experience":
Airbus will open a Zero Emissions Development Centre (ZEDC) at Filton, near Bristol in the UK:
"A priority for the UK ZEDC will be the development of a cost-competitive cryogenic fuel system required for the successful entry-into-service of Airbus’ ZEROe passenger aircraft by 2035"
Embraer hosted their first 'start-up day', inviting innovative businesses from around the world - "focusing on one of four critical areas: electric and hybrid-electric powertrain; fuel cells; Hydrogen storage; and battery technology" - to pitch to the Embraer Energia team (via Embraer).