LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are nearing a deal that would merge their blank check company with Joby Aviation, a move that would value Joby Aviation at $5.7 billion USD. Reinvent Technology Partners, Hoffman and Pincus’ special purpose acquisition company which recently raised $690 million USD in a public listing in 2020, is now finalizing financing...
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are nearing a deal that would merge their blank check company with Joby Aviation, a move that would value Joby Aviation at $5.7 billion USD. Reinvent Technology Partners, Hoffman and Pincus’ special purpose acquisition company which recently raised $690 million USD in a public listing in 2020, is now finalizing financing for this deal, and an official agreement could be released later this month. A successful merger would provide Joby Aviation with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
The success of this deal depends on when Reinvent Technology Partners can raise additional funding from institutional and private investors, according to a source for the Financial Times. The source continued that while close, the deal could still fall through if Hoffman and Pincus cannot obtain additional funding.
Founded in 2009, Joby Aviation is an aerial mobility company based in Santa Cruz, and has made waves recently with their acquisition of Uber Elevate in late 2020. Their prototype has currently undertaken more than 600 successful flights, received airworthiness certification from the U.S. military, and looks to obtain FAA certification by 2023 to begin commercial operations by 2024.
While Joby Aviation remained secretive for much of its existence, the company is now leading the market for eVTOL aircraft in the United States. Uber Elevate was the world’s largest focused effort to make eVTOL available commercially, bringing together stakeholders in local and state governments, and real estate and technology companies around the world. In addition, airworthiness certification from the U.S military gives Joby access to both direct and indirect funding, allow it to even more greatly prove safety during service for military operations, and help it bridge the gap into FAA certification for commercial operations. With these moves, Joby places itself at the front of the market for eVTOL within the U.S, and among the top companies in the world globally, a strong indicator that this deal has high potential to go through.
Why it’s important: Joby Aviation has raised $803 million USD to date, and can be considered one of the top candidates to go public in 2021, along with German aviation startup Lilium. While the first to do so was Archer with their astonishing $3.8 billion USD public listing as well as a $1 billion USD deal with United Airlines, a successful merger with Reinvent may launch Joby Aviation back to the top.
Source // Financial Times
With the sudden unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the aerial mobility sector was very much in question during early mid-2020. According to a recent article from AIN Online, with the start of a new year, while the general fallout from the pandemic did hinder some progress from smaller aerial mobility companies, several notable aerial mobility firms...
With the sudden unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the aerial mobility sector was very much in question during early mid-2020. According to a recent article from AIN Online, with the start of a new year, while the general fallout from the pandemic did hinder some progress from smaller aerial mobility companies, several notable aerial mobility firms such as Volocopter, Lilium, and Joby Aviation continued to forge ahead.
The start of a new year could see several companies pull ahead from the rest, as the consensus among independent observers seems to be that no more than a dozen or so of these new aircraft will see the commercial light of day. As the pandemic dies down during the course of this year, there will also be more scrutiny as to whether many of these aircraft developers will meet the timelines proposed when first introducing their aircraft; the earliest dates for commercial release is near the end of 2023, just 24 months away.
2021 will also likely clarify the regulatory outlook for these new aerial mobility aircraft, giving developers a clearer path to type certification. As 2020 closed, there were reasons for optimism that leading regulators FAA and EASA were edging closer to defining safety means of compliance to cover new architectures and propulsion systems. While the consensus for approval of operation for these new aircraft are not yet resolved, optimism is high.
The continued development of the aerial mobility industry also saw a slight shift in focus away from solely focusing on urban air mobility models, as several companies began looking at a broader range of applications that may be easier to implement in the short-term, such as operations in less densely populated areas for emergency medical support or freight deliveries. These applications also seem to favor fixed-wing designs using conventional or hybrid propulsion for which the technology risks of getting to market are lower. It also saw the more inclusive designation advanced air mobility increasingly vie for favor with the more specific urban air mobility.
Another trend to be alert to is more of the long-anticipated consolidation involving start-ups either being acquired by larger entities with deeper pockets or disappearing after running out of financial runway. 2020 began with Japanese carmaker Toyota spending $394 million to partially acquire Joby Aviation as part of a $590 million Series C funding round. No sooner had that happened than Korean rival Hyundai announced it had allocated $1.5 billion to buy a place in the eVTOL stakes with a direct investment in a new aircraft program. This trend seems likely to continue.
Why it’s important: 2020 brought many changes to the aerial mobility industry, and 2021 looks to be similar. With the COVID pandemic as well as the general growth of the aerial mobility industry, we are quickly seeing how the aerial mobility industry develops, as well as which companies look to be the most promising.
Source // AIN Online
Vertical Aerospace has announced the appointment of Richard Alexander as its Head of Flight Physics to help Vertical move towards their vision of electric fight for everyone. Alexander was formerly Chief Flight Dynamics Integrator on the Mitsubishi M100 Regional Jet and Head of Flight Sciences at Bombardier Aerospace; now he will assume a key role in ensuring that the Flight Physics aspects, including noise,...
Vertical Aerospace has announced the appointment of Richard Alexander as its Head of Flight Physics to help Vertical move towards their vision of electric fight for everyone. Alexander was formerly Chief Flight Dynamics Integrator on the Mitsubishi M100 Regional Jet and Head of Flight Sciences at Bombardier Aerospace; now he will assume a key role in ensuring that the Flight Physics aspects, including noise, performance, and handling, are safe and optimized for certification and operation of the first Vertical Aerospace aircraft to fly the public.
Vertical Aerospace has substantial influence in the sphere of sustainable aviation technologies, as one of only a handful of companies to have flown and flight tested two full-scale all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototypes with UK Civil Aviation Authority approval. The second, Seraph, can carry 250kg and reach speeds of 80km/h. Most recently Vertical unveiled its piloted winged eVTOL, VA-1X. Capable of traveling 100 miles at 150 mph, carrying four passengers and one pilot, VA-1X is set to be the world’s first certified winged eVTOL with initial commercial operations starting in 2024.
With over three decades of experience in the aerospace domain, Richard has a proven record of accomplishment both as a Flight Physics Engineer and as a leader of teams, completing the conceptual design, development, testing, certification, and entry into service of many aircraft designs, from the simplest derivative to complete clean-sheet programs. This includes the BAe 146-RJ, Bombardier CRJ700 and 900, Bombardier CSeries (now Airbus A220) and all the most recent versions of the Bombardier Global family.
Newly appointed Head of Flight Physics Richard Alexander said: “Joining Vertical Aerospace at such an exciting time in the development of the eVTOL market segment will be a great challenge for me and I am looking forward to meeting the team and starting to contribute. My background is based on fixed–wing aircraft and so I have quite a bit of catching up to do on the world of rotorcraft: I will have to add some “up” skills to my “forward (with a bit of up)” toolbox. However, as the VA-1X will transition from vertical to forward flight during operations, I am sure I will have a good deal of useful aircraft development experience to add to Vertical’s overall capability. I am also motivated by the zero-carbon emissions aspect: our vehicles will replace polluting, dinosaur-burning modes of ground and flight transport. My recent electric aircraft activities at CAE have already ignited an engineering passion to move the planet forward and develop the greenest, most commercially successful product in its class.”
Why it’s important: Vertical Aerospace is continuing to work alongside aviation authorities around the world and plans to have a certified eVTOL by 2024. They also continue to build strategic partnerships with global leaders such as Honeywell, who are developing the flight control systems for their latest aircraft. The company is striving to disrupt the trillion-dollar commercial aviation market, and will leverage the knowledge and expertise of Richard Alexander to do so in the most safe and efficient manner.
Source // Vertical Aerospace press release
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.” Custom graphic from the launch event of...
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.”
In June of this year, Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation became the first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL initiative of the United States Air Force, and is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential acquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Why it’s important: Over the years, Springfield has become increasingly important to Air Force research. Its airspace has also been approved for testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities for unmanned aircraft or drones above the airport. As highlighted by AFRL Commander Pringle, the establishment of an air taxi simulator facility “paves the way for AFRL and the Ohio community to advance the science and better understand an innovative capability with both military and commercial benefits.”
Source // Dayton Daily News
TransportUP has partnered with CoMotion LA in anticipation of their annual event showcasing prominent figures and companies in the aerial mobility space. This year, the conference will be streamed online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but will feature no shortage of speakers and sessions for those interested in learning about the future of urban mobility. “This year’s CoMotion LA...
TransportUP has partnered with CoMotion LA in anticipation of their annual event showcasing prominent figures and companies in the aerial mobility space. This year, the conference will be streamed online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but will feature no shortage of speakers and sessions for those interested in learning about the future of urban mobility.
“This year’s CoMotion LA gathering is so important. As we recover from the crisis it’s critical that we rebuild our transportation systems in green, healthy and sustainable ways that better serve cities and citizens – that is why we are calling for a bold New Deal for Mobility. We hope you join us, and thousands of other leaders from the public and private sectors, as we work to transform cities and transform lives,” said John Rossant, CEO, CoMotion.
This year’s conference themes will feature the following themes:
- Impacts: Equity and action
- Ecosystems: Data, privacy, and cities of tomorrow
- Innovations: New energy and sustainable solutions
- Advancements: Venture capital and scaling future mobility
Speakers will span the public and private sectors, ranging from mayors, policymakers, leading technologists, operators, and venture capitalists alike. This year’s virtual conference will include 90 speakers across 100+ sessions and workshops. Over 125 industry and media partners, representing over 75 countries.
Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to connect as an industry. CoMotion has found a way to continue sharing a vision for the future of urban mobility and its 2020 virtual conference will be invaluable to aerial mobility enthusiasts, industry leaders, and investors alike. In light of the pandemic, CoMotion is offering a free pass for industry panels and keynote speakers and a premium pass to unlock all sessions/speeces/panels/demos in addition to VIP networking opportunities. Book tickets at www.CoMotionLA.com/book-tickets
Transportation, research, and government-based partners in Canada have created a Vancouver-based consortium to accelerate the implementation of electric and hydrogen powered vertical takeoff flight in Canada. The future of flight in Canada has taken a major step forward with the launch of the Vancouver-based Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a multi-stakeholder group that will streamline research, development and commercial...
Transportation, research, and government-based partners in Canada have created a Vancouver-based consortium to accelerate the implementation of electric and hydrogen powered vertical takeoff flight in Canada.
The future of flight in Canada has taken a major step forward with the launch of the Vancouver-based Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a multi-stakeholder group that will streamline research, development and commercial operations in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector, globally recognized as the next frontier of commercial aviation. AAM involves the use of zero-emission, electric or hydrogen fuel cells, and vertical takeoff aircraft to provide transportation, emergency, and supply chain services for urban and rural communities. CAAM cites the many benefits of these aircraft as increased maneuverability, less need for ground infrastructure (airport runways), less aircraft noise, reduced fossil fuel consumption, lower costs, shorter travel times and improved safety.
Initiated and created by Canadian Air Mobility and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), there are currently more than twenty partners involved in the national effort. CAAM’s key members include TransLink, Helijet International, British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, Bell Textron, Iskwew Air, and many of Canada’s leading aerospace stakeholders.
“We’ve established an outstanding group of strategic members to support the design, integration, and implementation of Advanced Air Mobility in Canada,” said JR Hammond, Founder & CEO, Canadian Air Mobility and Executive Director, CAAM. “We look forward to demonstrating the economic viability, environmental benefits and social inclusivity factors of this technology and making Canada a world leader in AAM. To that end, we welcome additional members who share our vision that AAM provides the path toward a safer, healthier, and more efficient mode of transportation.”
In addition to providing transportation within urban and rural areas, AAM aircraft will play a critical life-saving role in emergency response situations by enabling faster air transportation of medical supplies, blood, donor organs, or patients to and from hospitals. It will also improve the emergency response and assessment of natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.
According to the CAAM, factors making the Greater Vancouver Area a promising AAM market include: a strong aviation infrastructure base; an existing scheduled helicopter service, with heliports in Vancouver and nearby Victoria and Nanaimo; numerous science and transportation research facilities; the Province of British Columbia and City of Vancouver’s commitment to the decarbonization of transportation; and the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia corridor (Vancouver-Seattle-Portland), as one of the busiest routes for the movement of goods and people between Canada and the United States.
Among the CAAM’s objectives are to create an AAM innovation hub to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their technology from a low technology readiness level (TRL) to certification and commercialization, while also expanding the AAM sector’s connections to regulators, manufacturers, aviation operators, infrastructure developers, academia, industry, and governments in Canada and internationally.
“The National Research Council of Canada is proud to be a part of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) consortium since the start,” said Dr. Ibrahim Yimer, the NRC’s Vice-President of Transportation and Manufacturing. “We look forward to working with our 20 partners who are lending their expertise in the Advanced Air Mobility industry to decarbonize transportation, and create more efficient ways of moving people, goods and services and support more socially connected and integrated communities.”
According to the CAAM, the future of the new era in aviation will ultimately mean faster Medi-vac services, upwards of 4.2 million AAM travelers over the next 20 years, traveling between downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver in 1 hour versus 3, expanding connections in remote communities and most importantly, creating new jobs.
For more information, the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility has provided public access to its white paper which elaborates on AAM’s missions and services for the Greater Vancouver Area, the Advanced Air Mobility Industry, and the importance as well as why Vancouver was selected to be the first region in Canada. In addition, CAAM hosts a quarterly Digital Open House that provides the public with an opportunity to connect with current stakeholders and learn more about the progress of AAM work in Canada. Visit the CAAM’s website here for details.
Why it’s important: The launch of a new aerial mobility initiative in the Vancouver area signifies the global capacity of this new generation of transportation. The CAAM will be a resource and ally to many of the Canada-based companies striving to make an impact on the manufacturing or commercial operation of new aerial mobility vehicles. The CAAM also mirrors a similar initiative – the Seattle-based Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI) – which seeks to garner public support of urban air mobility as the technology and regulations progress. CAMI intends to support the responsible integration of urban air mobility (UAM) into communities through education, communication, and advocacy; it recently announced its launch with the support of its founding members, including aircraft manufacturers Bell and Joby Aviation, as well as non-profit organizations such as the NBAA. Both the CAAM and CAMI have similar aspirations for the aerial mobility industry and, given their close geographical proximity, could very well collaborate on the advancement of R&D and commercialization efforts.
Source // Helijet International; CAAM press release
Jaunt Air Mobility announced on October 5th, 2020, that their board would be elevating former Chief Technical Officer Martin Peryea as Jaunt’s interim CEO. The press release cited that the change in leadership was made for the sake of the development of the Jaunt Journey aircraft. According to Peryea, who held over 33 of engineering experience at Bell Helicopters, “On...
Jaunt Air Mobility announced on October 5th, 2020, that their board would be elevating former Chief Technical Officer Martin Peryea as Jaunt’s interim CEO. The press release cited that the change in leadership was made for the sake of the development of the Jaunt Journey aircraft. According to Peryea, who held over 33 of engineering experience at Bell Helicopters, “On behalf of the company, I am pleased to lead Jaunt at this critical juncture. Our confidence in our technology remains high and our working relationships with our key suppliers are stronger than ever. We understand that Kaydon Stanzione will be pursuing other endeavors.”
Jaunt Air Mobility LLC is an air taxi development company focused on creating unique air vehicles that provide the highest levels of operational efficiencies, safety, and community acceptance. A promising startup as well as a current partner of Uber Elevate, the company is a leader in vertical flight with the design and development of its Reduced Rotor Operating Speed Aircraft (ROSA™) solution.
The Jaunt Journey, designed to meet Uber’s noise and performance requirements, was originally designed by Carter Aviation, which was recently acquired by Jaunt Air Mobility. The Jaunt Journey eVTOL utilizes Carter Aviation’s slowed-rotor compound (SR/C) technology to provide lift from the vertical rotor even in horizontal flight, and to decrease noise while increasing efficiency and safety. The Jaunt eVTOL is unique among the Uber Elevate partners in that it features only a single lift rotor.
Why it’s important: Jaunt Air Mobility has undergone a leadership change, but is still committed to its vision, as well as its investors, suppliers, customers, and all other stakeholders. The company remains confident that the change will only benefit the company and all stakeholders, and has high hopes for Martin Peryea, former CTO of Jaunt and a long-time expert in vertical lift technologies.
Source // Jaunt Air Mobility Press Release (10/5/2020)
Chinese EV maker XPeng has displayed a prototype of its single-seat flying car at the 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, showing off eight propellers and a capsule-like frame. According to XPeng Motors, “electrically driven urban air-enabled multi-dimensional transport will be an integral part of the future mobility ecosystem. Xpeng is exploring this area in the course of its development of fully...
Chinese EV maker XPeng has displayed a prototype of its single-seat flying car at the 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, showing off eight propellers and a capsule-like frame.
According to XPeng Motors, “electrically driven urban air-enabled multi-dimensional transport will be an integral part of the future mobility ecosystem. Xpeng is exploring this area in the course of its development of fully integrated and comprehensive mobility solutions for tomorrow’s cities.”
The vehicle, named the Kiwigogo, can carry up to two passengers and is designed to fly in low-altitude space, between 16 and 82 feet (5 to 25 meters) from the ground. XPeng explained that the Kiwigogo is in its seventh year of development and has 15 proprietary intellectual property rights and roughly 10,000 safety tests have already been conducted. However, XPeng CEO He Xiaopeng says that the flying car is unlikely to be commercialized by XPeng as part of its current offerings.
“Xpeng’s efforts in the electric air-enabled mobility space will remain focused on R&D and experimental designs for the present,” the Guangzhou-based company said, adding that it does not expect impact on its current business. “Xpeng will evaluate prospects in the space in details before proceeding with any substantial investment in this area.”
Why it’s important: XPeng’s recent successful IPO and Series C+ financing further enhances the Company’s commitment and credibility in providing Smart EV transport for the future. This funding, in combination with its success in the automotive sector, could provide a strong base for the company to continue the development of its Kiwigogo air vehicle and other aerial mobility options in the future.
Sources // XPeng; South China Morning Post
The race will demonstrate the latest advancements in the Airspeeder’s hovering and maneuvering technology, and hopefully boost tourism to Coober Pedy, which has seen visitor numbers plunge during the COVID-19 pandemic. To many it may sound futuristic, but international startup Alauda Racing says it will host a full-scale flying car race in remote South Australia before the end of the year....
The race will demonstrate the latest advancements in the Airspeeder’s hovering and maneuvering technology, and hopefully boost tourism to Coober Pedy, which has seen visitor numbers plunge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To many it may sound futuristic, but international startup Alauda Racing says it will host a full-scale flying car race in remote South Australia before the end of the year. Airspeeder has been developing the cars, which use drone technology to hover and maneuver above ground. The startup’s co-founder, Matt Pearson, said despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a big year for the industry. “With electric aviation, with the drone industry, with the autonomous vehicle industry boom — all the technology that makes autonomous electric cars possible, are making the electric flying cars industry,” he said in a recent interview.
The Alauda Airspeeder is a small single seater eVTOL designed for racing. According to Pearson, the vehicle is best described as a cross between an F1 car and a racing drone, and is capable of flying up to 124mph. Approximately one year ago, Alauda’s unmanned prototype of the speeder took to the skies at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, UK. Watch the Alauda video below:
Although Alauda experienced some technical difficulties with the Airspeeder at Goodwood, the Alauda team still plans on debuting races in 2020. Said Pearson, “with early technology, these things happen.” The Alauda team explained that the error, which caused the prototype to briefly lose control, would have been impossible in a manned aircraft.
He also was able to provide more details about what we can expect to see in Coober Pedy later this year and in the near future. The race will be a display for the public, demonstrating two remote-controlled cars being put through their paces. It will be a while however, before the vehicles have drivers in them. Airspeeder has approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to fly large scale, commercial drones, but is yet to negotiate a license to fly people. We’re working on that with the authorities — so not yet, but it is in process and we hope very soon we’ll have that possibility,” Mr. Pearson said.
Why it’s important: Australia has provided impressive support and infrastructure for many aerial mobility startups to begin testing their platforms in a controlled environment. Even Google and Amazon have chosen Australia for their test programs because of fairly advanced regulations. Alauda Racing hopes to capitalize on this opportunity to demonstrate a unique application of eVTOL technology that most have never fathomed possible. As an added benefit, this race is likely to draw tourism to the small town of Coober Pedy. With an extraterrestrial-style landscape, Coober Pedy will make for a thrilling backdrop to watch one of the world’s first flying car races.
Source // ABC News
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium. Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it...
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium.
Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it to deliver regional journeys that are considerably faster than rail or road, yet competitive in price. The demonstrator aircraft first flew in 2019 and is a five-seater, fully-electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). Lilium expects to service a sizeable global market demand by connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
On Tuesday, Lilium welcomed respected investment management partnership, Baillie Gifford, as a new investor. Known for their track record of investing in high-impact technology companies such as Amazon, Tesla, Airbnb, Spotify and SpaceX, the partnership has invested $35m in the company, extending the current funding round to more than $275m, and total investment to date to more than $375m.
The news comes less than three months after Lilium confirmed it had received $240m in additional funding from existing investors including Atomico, Freigeist, LGT and Tencent, who led the investment round. Combined, these funds will support the further development of the Lilium Jet as well as underpinning preparations for serial production in Lilium’s newly-completed manufacturing facilities.
Commenting on the new investment, Christopher Delbrück, Chief Financial Officer, Lilium, said: “Baillie Gifford is one of the world’s most influential tech investors and their commitment to Lilium represents a significant vote of confidence in both our physical product and our business case.
“We look forward to working closely with Baillie Gifford as we seek to bring emissions-free, regional air mobility to the market as early as 2025.
“The funds raised during this round give us the security to weather the challenging economic landscape we see around us and we’re grateful to be able to stay fully focused on our mission.”
Commenting on their investment, Michael Pye, Investment Manager at Baillie Gifford, said: “We are delighted to support the remarkable team at Lilium in their ambition of developing a new mode of transport.
“While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future and we are excited to watch Lilium’s progress in the years ahead.”
Why it’s important: The aerial mobility industry is proving to be robust in these otherwise turbulent times for the aviation and transportation industries. Lilium, in particular, has boasted strong funding round results, and recently announced that it will resume flight testing after its employees spent over two months working off-site due to the global impacts of COVID-19.
Source // Lilium Media Release
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of...
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.
The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of aerial mobility technology as supplemental (and eventually in replacement of) current mobility offerings for both manned and unmanned missions. The initiative is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential aquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation are engaged in area of Interest One (AOI-1) of the solicitation campaign, which is seeking vehicles capable of transporting three to eight people at least 100 miles (160 kilometers) at speeds of at least 100 mph, with first flight taking place before the end of this year.
In a press release, Air Force program executive officer for Mobility and Training Aircraft, Lynda Rutledge, articulated the organization’s excitement to work with these innovative and quick-moving air vehicle manufacturers. In the first phase of the collaboration, Beta and Joby submitted “solutions briefs”. These led to a second phase in which the Air Force engaged with them directly to assess their vehicles’ commercial viability, operational utility, technical readiness level, certification path, timelines, needs, and opportunities. Now in the third stage, the OEMs may submit full written proposals for the potential award of an “Other Transaction for Prototype” (OTP) agreement.
Beta and Joby are among the most advanced and well-funded eVTOL developers in an increasingly crowded market. California-based Joby unveiled its prototype air taxi in January of this year, when it also announced $590 million in Series C funding, the bulk of which came from Toyota Motor Corp. Vermont-based Beta — which has already conducted an extensive flight test campaign with its Ava XC prototype — is now poised to reveal its new eVTOL, called ALIA. It has a launch customer in United Therapeutics, which plans to use the 6,000-pound (2,720-kilogram) aircraft to transport human organs.
Why it’s important: The defense sector’s increased interest in aerial mobility is providing a contract diversification opportunity for manufacturers such as Beta and Joby. The companies could greatly benefit in the long run by providing their products to both commercial and military applications, as it would enable financial diversity and mitigate the impact of a downturn in a single sector. The benefit of this strategy has recently been underscored by the impact of COVID-19; as the commercial aviation industry and aircraft orders have stalled, defense contractors continue to fulfill demand at exceedingly high rates.
Sources // USAF; eVTOL.com
The flight of the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology. Based in Redmond, Washington, magniX is dedicated to connecting communities by enabling an era of clean and affordable commercial air travel with all-electric propulsion. The...
The flight of the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.
Based in Redmond, Washington, magniX is dedicated to connecting communities by enabling an era of clean and affordable commercial air travel with all-electric propulsion. The electric aviation startup has already developed 375HP and 750HP all-electric motors – which produce zero emissions and increased efficiency – and power electronics solutions for various aviation applications.
To achieve this milestone of flight testing the world’s largest all-electric aircraft, MagniX partnered with another Washington-based company, AeroTEC. AeroTEC has a strong track record of bringing products to market quickly, easily and efficiently, using innovative and scalable development, test, and certification techniques.
The successful flight of the eCaravan, magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system, took place at the AeroTEC Flight Test Center at the Grant County International Airport (KMWH) in Moses Lake, Washington on the morning of May 28th. As the world’s largest all-electric commercial aircraft, this is a significant milestone in disrupting the transportation industry and accelerating the electric aviation revolution.
“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports. These electric commercial aircraft will enable the offering of flying services of people and packages in a way previously not possible.”
“I’m proud of the pioneering work performed by our engineers, technicians and flight test team,” said Lee Human, President and CEO of AeroTEC. “There’s no roadmap for testing and certifying electric aircraft – this is a new frontier and AeroTEC is on the front lines developing the processes and best practices that will pave the way for electric aviation.”
The flying of the eCaravan serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.
The historic flight was captured via livestream and watched by people around the world. Following the flight, a virtual press conference was held in the Test Center’s hangar. To view images, recording of the virtual press conference and videos of the first flight of the world’s largest all-electric aircraft, visit: https://magnix.aero/ecaravan/.
Why it’s important: magniX and AeroTEC are ushering in a new wave of short-haul aviation propulsion technology, which will likely open the doors for various widespread applications in the near future. The success of this test flight demonstrates the availability of electric aviation technology and highlights the fact that technology is no longer a barrier to the implementation of aerial mobility infrastructure; certification, regulation, and public acceptance remain the primary hurdles that the industry faces.
Sources // magniX; PRNewsWire
While a number of aerial mobility companies are focusing on recalibration of their business plans to support weathering challenging financial times, some have opted to pursue a relatively under-publicized avenue for revenue generation: defense contracts. When the United States Air Force announced their Agility Prime Initiative months ago, the thought of an innovation driver for the aerial mobility industry with...
While a number of aerial mobility companies are focusing on recalibration of their business plans to support weathering challenging financial times, some have opted to pursue a relatively under-publicized avenue for revenue generation: defense contracts.
When the United States Air Force announced their Agility Prime Initiative months ago, the thought of an innovation driver for the aerial mobility industry with the potential for real financial backing and an attitude of the USAF towards promotion of aerial mobility technologies that met their standards was one of the more technologically progressive moves that the military has publicized. Oftentimes such initiatives are relegated to private spheres of conversation and dealmaking, understandably for security purposes.
Doing away with the term “eVTOL” and instead opting for the more progressive and imaginative “orb” classification of this future generation of vehicles, Agility Prime has proved a spark amongst an otherwise moderate, quiet, and dedicated pace of progress within the aerial mobility industry.
While there were many key takeaways from AP, one of the more enduring and reinvigorating was the entire approach to solving the problem of hosting a conference that discusses the future of transportation and mobility, during a global pandemic that drove meaningful conversations that advanced the industry. The conference in and of itself was a reflection of the character and mentality required to make the unreal, real.
The structure of Agility Prime features three key Area of Interest (AOI) categories: air race to certification, 1-2 passenger ORBs, and cargo ORBs. These three categories reflect the triad of requirements that the USAF are interested in fulfilling by review of Request for Prototype Proposals (RPPs) as the third phase in their review processes – the first two phases being Solution Briefs and Company Engagement, respectively. Through the process of providing Solution Briefs to the USAF, companies will be analyzed for appropriateness of the Solutions. Those companies with appropriate Solutions move forward with Engagements with the USAF, with the final stage requiring a formal RPP.
Why it’s important: Credit is due to the Agility Prime team for being flexible and adapting when change was needed – their conference was hosted completely virtually, and as such afforded attendees the opportunity to engage regardless of their location or ability to travel safely. This adaptable format is likely the structure that many conferences will take on in the coming months to ensure that connections and information continue to flow as needed, but in a slightly different manner.
The Aerial Mobility industry is providing Next-gen technology to combat next-gen problems The role of technology and disruptive mobility solutions had a cemented station in the technology sphere across the globe, and a defined and measurable rate of progress, for the most part. Two months ago, that all changed with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak from China, straining medical personnel,...
The Aerial Mobility industry is providing Next-gen technology to combat next-gen problems
The role of technology and disruptive mobility solutions had a cemented station in the technology sphere across the globe, and a defined and measurable rate of progress, for the most part. Two months ago, that all changed with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak from China, straining medical personnel, first responders, local, nation, and global political organizations, and the economy worldwide.
Many of the advantages of the future generation of aerial mobility technology relate primarily to the unrealized functionalities, and possibility, that unmanned, on-demand aerial mobility transportation tech provides to the world in unique situations with use cases that aren’t currently defined. Here are a few ways that COVID-19 is accelerating the development and deployment of aerial mobility technology worldwide.
Surveillance Drones Enforcing Quarantines
Billion dollar industries don’t normally emerge overnight, but in Shenzhen, China, home to over 70% of the world’s civilian drones, surveillance technology that was previously used for surveying and real estate applications has been repurposed to support the enforcement of curfews. Forbes and the South China Morning Post overviewed the details of how some surveillance drones are helping to enforce the curfews that are estimated to affect some 50 million residents. Shenzhen Smart Drone UAV’s were the primary use case for reconfigured platforms.
Chairman of Shenzhen MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology, Lu Zhihui, has performed the same reconfiguration of surveying and mapping drones that can be geared with loudspeakers, thermal sensors, 40-times zoom lenses and flood lights to help enforce quarantines, if necessary.
According to SCMP, MicroMultiCopter has 100 drones to local authorities in 11 Chinese cities since the outbreak led to citywide quarantines in late January. The company is also working with government agencies that include the police, transport department and local marketing divisions that promote and advertise the restrictions. Lu stated that each drone can patrol a 10 square kilometer urban area in an hour, saving the work of more than 100 police officers in dozens of patrol cars.
Lu also added that MicroMultiCopter plans to more than double its production to 5,000 units this year, from last year’s 2,000. Lu did not comment on the list price of the technology.
Corollaries in Disaster Relief
Across continents, the benefits of using drones is clear: the European Emergency Number Association, in collaboration with drone maker DJI and Research Firm Black Channel, determined that drones find those needing rescue significantly faster than ground-based Search and Rescue (SAR) methods. This corollary doesn’t apply directly to COVID-19 response, but it does underscore the specific advantages that drones have over other aircraft and ground based system in natural disaster relief scenarios.
Rapid Transport of Medical Goods
Aerodeli, an Antwork branch company, gained the first commercial drone delivery license from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in October of 2019. Since February 6th, 2020, the company has been utilizing their technology for safe transport of medical sample technology.
GPS World Magazine categorized Aerodeli’s work as “RA3 and tr7s drones and unmanned RH1 station [that] are ensuring that medical samples and quarantine materials can travel with minimal risk between Xinchang County People’s Hospital and Xinchang County’s disease control center. The automatic, unmanned air delivery system significantly reduces contact between samples and personnel, as well as improves delivery speed.”
Both the rate of transport of these samples, and the safety with which the samples are being moved both contribute to the value proposition of aerial mobility technology as a key enabler for addressing the complicated societal problems of the future. Drones require limited human interaction, save sample loading and unloading, and the rate of transport has been reported as up to 50% faster for current intracity trips (according to the flight statistics of these drones operation in Xinchang). This time savings is an exciting figure as the speed of transport will continue to increase in speed as the industry continues to mature due to advancements in flight path sequencing and loading/unloading flows.
Beyond COVID-19 Transport
Many other examples of medical goods transport via air taxi exist and are being tested at this time – including Beta Technologies’ Ava prototype, designed in conjunction with United Therapeutics to transport human organs in time critical, emergency scenarios. Tier 1 Engineering, another startup funded by United Therapeutics, utilizes energy efficient, battery powered helicopters to transport human organs in critical scenarios, and serves as a hybrid for large scale aerial mobility operations for human organ transplants until more custom solutions are certified by aviation regulatory authorities.
Delivery Drones for food and consumables delivery
Quarantine enforcement and medical good transport some of the primary applications of drone aerial mobility and drone technology to fighting coronavirus, but some additional, indirect benefits also provide the necessary support mechanisms that facilitate societal upkeep during heightened sensitivity periods to disease, infection, or natural disaster.
An often overlooked analogue is the role that drones and future mobility technology provided during the Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey – drones allowed for rapid aerial surveying, search and rescue, and medical goods supply and transport, on a limited basis. These events occurred over 10 years ago – and the maturation of mobility technology in those past 10 years have allowed for the heightened level of societal benefit from the tech itself.
On a larger scale, companies such as DHL and UPS have piloted their own drone delivery services. These services will allow at scale the free flowing movement that is highly desired of large fulfillment centers and e-commerce stores. While challenging the describe in this manner, the outbreak of COVID-19 is a fortunate event and forcing function for the progress of larger scale drone deliveries, as the benefits of a large network that could transport food, consumables, and emergency/disaster relief equipment in a scenario such as a hurricane, earthquake, or virus outbreak have been made blatantly clear.
An Aside on Enabling Technologies
While many of the technologies that are affecting and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak perform direct functions, ancillary and supporting technologies, such as low-altitude airspace management, infrastructure, battery technology, AI flight controllers, and advanced aerospace grade composite materials all contribute to the overall success of these disruptive mobility applications.
Why it’s important: While mass-scale commercial aerial mobility technology will not be viable for at least another 10 years, the societal benefits and value proposition to the everyday consumer, even if that consumer isn’t riding in an air taxi, are evident amplified due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As early as 2009, during Hurricane Katrina, drones and disruptive mobility technology has been utilized to aid in disaster relief, search and rescue, medical transport, and surveillance operations.
Oftentimes, massive global events, such as wars, natural disasters, or political turmoil provide, ironically, some of the greatest progress in technological advancements that have ever been accomplished: The Cold War and the Moon Landing, WWII and the jet engine, the industrial revolution, and so on. While the current global outlook is negative, the situation that has emerged is one ripe for taking advantage of the greatest opportunity afforded to anyone: the right to do better and do what was not possible, before it was said it could be done.
With content from Forbes, South China Morning Post, GPS World Magazine, CNN, and CNBC.
Bye Aerospace, developer of the eFlyer family of FAA Part 23-certified all-electric aircraft, announced that Cassie Kloberdanz Lee has joined the company as a Strategic Advisor. Lee is co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, a highly competitive internship and mentorship program designed to inspire and train undergraduate women seeking a career in aviation or space exploration. A global activist for...
Bye Aerospace, developer of the eFlyer family of FAA Part 23-certified all-electric aircraft, announced that Cassie Kloberdanz Lee has joined the company as a Strategic Advisor.
Lee is co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, a highly competitive internship and mentorship program designed to inspire and train undergraduate women seeking a career in aviation or space exploration. A global activist for women in aerospace, she is a member of an international team working on projects that ensure the benefits of space reach women and girls, and that women and girls play an active, equal role in the future of space. Previously, she served as Chief Operating Officer for Earthrise Alliance, a philanthropic organization that derives value from Earth system data to create actionable knowledge to combat climate change. She was also Head of Space Programs at Vulcan Inc., where she led the development of innovative space solutions in support of Paul G. Allen’s Impact initiatives such as improving ocean health, addressing climate change and using data to save species at risk of extinction.
Prior to her work at Vulcan, Lee was the Business Development Manager for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, where she held a variety of engineering roles on the Dream Chaser® orbital vehicle program and co-founded the Advanced Development Program. She has led Media and Public Relations for SpaceX and designed and taught a graduate-level course in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Lee began her career as a Propulsion Engineer for NASA at Kennedy Space Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder.
“We are honored to welcome Cassie to our elite group of strategic advisors,” said George E. Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. “She brings a unique combination of aerospace engineering experience, philanthropy and education, not to mention her work in creating more global aviation and space exploration opportunities to young women.”
Why it’s important: Bye Aerospace aims for the eFlyer family of aircraft, including the 2-seat eFlyer 2 and the 4-seat eFlyer 4, to be the first FAA-certified, practical, all-electric airplanes to serve the flight training and general aviation markets. In order to achieve its goal, the company will require diverse perspectives from experienced professionals spanning multiple industries. Lee brings to the table a perspective of environmental sustainability, in addition to her activism amongst women in aerospace; both focuses are critical to the longevity of aviation for decades to come.
Source // Bye Aerospace