Surf Air Mobility announced on May 18th signature of contracts with magniX, a leader in electric aviation propulsion, and AeroTEC, a premier aircraft development and integration company, to develop and certify hybrid and fully-electric powertrains for new and existing Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft. These hybrid and fully-electric aircraft will be designed to reduce operating costs and emissions and greatly improve the affordability of regional air mobility.
Further, the mobility company announced a business combination agreement with Tuscan Holdings Corp. II (“THCA”), that will result in Surf Air Mobility becoming a publicly listed company (subject to approval of certain conditions).
Surf Air Mobility shared in a statement that it 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.
Surf Air Mobility intends to first develop and commercialize hybrid electric aircraft to accelerate entry into market for operators and consumers of sustainable air travel without the need for charging infrastructure. The hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravans will, in due course, be operated on Surf Air Mobility’s consumer platform and intends to make these available to third-party operators.
SAM’s first-generation hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravans are being designed to target carbon emissions reductions of up to 50% and direct operating cost reductions of up to 25%. The Company anticipates its initial hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravans, once developed, will have the same flight range as their turbine combustion engine counterpart, allowing the hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan to operate on regional routes across the US. The hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravans will not require charging infrastructure on the ground.
Why it’s important: This announcement follows a trend of many mobility companies announcing integration or investments in electric aircraft to their fleets, to allow for the baseline infrastructure to be established ahead of the ultimate goal of a fully electrified fleet of aircraft. Further, the trend of hybrid-electric aircraft serving as the first iteration away from the currently all combustion engine fleets of Part 135 and Part 121 operators will likely mirror the ultimate shift of the industry towards fully electric and autonomous vehicles, as the technological shifts are worked piecemeal over time.