Textron, home to the Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell aviation brands, has announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase Pipistrel, an award-winning pioneer and global leader in electrically powered aircraft, based in Slovenia and Italy.
With Textron, Pipistrel will have access to greater resources, technical and regulatory expertise, and a global aircraft sales and support network, enabling it to accelerate its development and certification of electric and hybrid electric aircraft. Upon closing of the transaction, Textron plans to form a new business segment, Textron eAviation, focused on the development of sustainable aircraft, which will include Pipistrel.
In 2020, Pipistrel’s Velis Electro became the world’s first, and currently only, electric aircraft to receive full type-certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This achievement followed a series of electric aircraft introductions since the company began research and development of electric propulsion in 2000. Pipistrel’s pioneering work has been recognized through awards from NASA, IDC, and other organizations. The company, which offers a family of gliders and light aircraft with both electric and combustion engines, has delivered more than 2,500 light aircraft worldwide since its founding in 1989 and additionally has both hybrid and electric propulsion models under development.
“Pipistrel puts Textron in a uniquely strong position to develop technologies for the sustainable aviation market and develop a variety of new aircraft to meet a wide range of customer missions,” said Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly. “Today’s announcement supports Textron’s long-term strategy to offer a family of sustainable aircraft for urban air mobility, general aviation, cargo and special mission roles.”
“Pipistrel has been celebrated as one of the world’s most important and successful manufacturers of electric aircraft,” continued Donnelly. “Textron is committed to maintaining Pipistrel’s brand, headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing in Slovenia and Italy, while making additional investments in Pipistrel for the development and production of future products.”
Pipistrel founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol will remain a minority shareholder as well as Chairman Emeritus, consulting on future product plans and strategies for a two-year period.
“Under my 30-year leadership, Pipistrel’s team has achieved a unique prime position in personal, affordable, environmentally friendly and electric aviation. The trend and foundation for future projects has clearly been set,” said Boscarol. “To drive Pipistrel’s ambitious goals and to continue its story of success, the joining of Textron and Pipistrel provides deep expertise and resources which would otherwise be inaccessible to Pipistrel alone. With Textron, we are together geared to strive for future growth and look forward to announcing exciting new products and projects. I am delighted to continue witnessing my vision become a reality by being actively engaged with the company for the future.”
The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
Why it matters: Textron is already entering the eVTOL and electric aircraft market through its own brand, Bell, and will add a good deal of technical expertise with this acquisition. Textron’s brand is predominately US-based however, so the company could face a challenge in allowing Pipistrel to keep its manufacturing and design centers in Slovenia and Italy. However, Textron’s experience in aviation will be a significant advantage for Pipistrel as they seek commercialization of their EASA type-certified electric aircraft.