Surf Air Mobility, a new developmental department of regional air mobility provider Surf Air, has now acquired aviation hybrid-electric power train developer Ampaire shortly after the company set a record for the longest route to date with an electric aircraft. With this acquisition, Surf Air Mobility, formed in 2020, looks to improve “affordability, accessibility, and environmental footprint of regional travel”.
Surf Air Mobility was recently formed after Surf Air, a short-haul flight service provider, acquired Blackbird, an aviation marketplace that provides passengers the option of chartering private flights. Soon after being formed, Surf Air Mobility acquired a $200 million USD investment from Global Emerging Markets Group in order to go public. Now, Surf Air Mobility looks to provide an (eventually electric) alternative to driving or flying on commercial airlines for trips of 50-500 miles.
According to Surf Air Mobility co-founder and CEO Sudhin Shahani, “We see the near-term opportunity to transform existing turboprop aircraft across the entire industry as the first step to ultimately extend to fully electric aviation across all trip lengths.”
Before the acquisition, Ampaire was working on developing hybrid-electric power trains for 9-19 seat piston and turboprop aircraft, currently possessing two propulsion testbeds from a modified Cessna 337 Skymaster. Additionally, Ampaire is now developing a megawatt-class, hybrid-electric propulsion conversion for the 19-seat twin-turboprop de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.
According to Ampaire co-founder and CEO Kevin Noertker, “The same building blocks of the electrified power train from the Twin Otter can be applied to other turboprops in the Part 23 category, for example the Cessna Caravan. We’ll continue working on both.”
With the reduced direct operating costs of hybrid-electric aircraft, Surf Air Mobility will be “able to create a new kind of point-to-point network that opens up previously untenable markets with more direct connections,” says President Fred Reid. “With half of all U.S. flights 500 mi. or less, hybrid-electric technology will have an immediate and broad-reaching impact.”
Why it’s important: Surf Air Mobility’s acquisition of Ampaire will align Ampaire closer with aircraft operators to streamline development and deployment of their electric aircraft. According to the company, it will also enable Ampaire to address a wider range of aircraft for upgrade.
Source // Aviation Week Network