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OPINION – Electric Aviation: Can Small Electric and Hydrogen Aircraft Usher in its Future? [UPDATED]

 

EDITORIAL NOTE: A previous version of this article featured an incorrect version of the final copy, it has been updated and approved by PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

 

The aviation industry and consumers alike have long envisioned a future of e-aircraft. It’s surely on its way — but perhaps not on the trajectory many had expected.

We’ll probably have a long wait until Jetsons-like fleets of e-taxis (small, electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) zig-zag over our cityscapes. While the technology is viable, mainstream adoption faces huge headwinds from regulation, FAA certification and rules governing airworthiness, traffic control technology and public concerns over noise and safety. Large, long-haul passenger jets powered by batteries or hydrogen propulsion systems are probably at least a decade away. Energy density per mass in batteries and fuel-cell technology is simply insufficient to power them.

E-Aviation’s Sweet Spot? Small, Short-haul Aircraft

We nevertheless find ourselves crossing a promising threshold for the e-aviation era. The sweet spot of commercial viability lies in smaller aircraft (typically carrying under 10 but possibly as many as 40 passengers) for short-haul flights (up to, say, 500 miles) and powered by lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen (and hybridizations of battery, hydrogen and jet fuels). These are also known as electric short take-off and landing aircraft (e-STOL) — STOL aircraft that use battery or hydrogen cells for propulsion power and can take off and land on shorter runways. These aircraft have enough energy density per mass to handle journeys in the hundreds of miles. We expect e-STOLs could begin to be mainstreamed over the next three years and their progress should serve as a curtain-raiser to bigger things to come into the next decade.

We’re seeing signs of innovation in e-aviation that could very spark a transformation in the aviation industry. First off the runways are a mix of retrofitted small aircraft — among them retrofitted platforms on the de Havilland Beaver (eBeaver), the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (eCaravan) and the 40-passenger hydrogen fuel cell Dash-8 — as well as newly designed, small purpose-fit e-aircraft.

There’s been a lot of activity in this space recently. In September 2021, the FAA announced special conditions for airworthiness standards of electric propulsion systems in commercial aircraft. In March 2022, Textron announced plans to acquire Pipistrel, the Slovenia-based electric aircraft company that makes the Velis Electro, a two-seat trainer and the first e-aircraft type to win European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification, awarded in June 2021. Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro, the first all-electric trainer plane to hit the US, has won airworthiness certification from the FAA. Textron plans to use the Pipistrel acquisition to establish a separate corporate arm dedicated to e-aviation. Meanwhile, Airflow — a maker of both purpose-fit passenger and freight electric short take-off and landing aircraft (e-STOLs) — announced in October 2021 that it would partner with Plug Power, a maker of hydrogen-powered engines, to expand into small hydrogen-fueled aircraft.

And Ampaire, which retrofits planes like the Cessna Caravan and the DHC Twin Otter with hybrid electric propulsion systems, announced that it expects to win a supplemental type certificate from the FAA in 2023 for the first aircraft model that it aims to convert. Ampaire is targeting 2024 to start passenger service. With this kind of traction, we expect to see a growing new generation of aircraft serving niche, short-haul markets over the next several years.

OEMs Taking Different Tacks in Advanced Air Mobility 

Major global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have their own plans for e-aviation. Airbus, through its zero-emissions initiative, has targeted 2035 for large jetliners and plans test flights to begin aboard a modified A380 as early as 2026. Airbus has partnered with carriers including Delta Airlines and easyJet to develop the proof of concept. Additionally, Safran Electrical & Power announced in early April 2022 it would collaborate with Aura Aero on the architecture and electric propulsion systems of two aircraft: the INTEGRAL E training aircraft and the ERA (Electric Regional Aircraft).

Greening up the Regional Market

E-STOLs offer the potential for an entirely different market opportunity for commercial aviation. These small aircraft could fill a need for short-haul flight connections using the country’s vast network of small, regional airports as well as large airports. Furthermore, the pandemic brought an exodus from cities to more rural areas, which could also help green up the short-haul connector market, which, according to Brookings Institute, accounts for more than 50% of current US flights.

This percentage could rise, given that there are thousands of small regional airports capable of serving only aircraft with a maximum of 20 passengers. These small aircraft could, therefore, serve as a much-needed bridge between regional air transportation and urban centers and offer radically sustainable solutions such as occasional commuting to and from major cities, local tourism, last or first airfreight leg, and critical medical evacuations or organ transport.

A Potential $200 Billion-plus Market

Indeed, industry observers expect a high growth rate in e-aviation, with the global electric and hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion system market forecast to hit $74.9 billion in 2035 at a CAGR of 18.4% over the 2025-2035 period. Likewise, the global hydrogen aircraft market is estimated to reach $23.7 billion in 2030 and hit $144.5 billion by 2040 (for a CAGR of 20.5% over the 2030-2040 period). Naturally, innovations in battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology as well as aircraft light-weighting and improved aerodynamics could well hasten the viability of large, long-haul passenger (and freight) aircraft powered by electrons.

We believe the increasing investment and certification activity surrounding e-STOLs has important implications — and opportunities — for virtually all players in the aviation industry, including existing developers of small aircraft, new entrants developing air-taxis and, eventually, makers of mid-size and even jumbo airliners. While we expect adoption to come on staggered schedules, we also believe that all players should now be positioning themselves to get a foothold in the e-aviation industry.

OEMs, for instance, will need to continue to work closely with airlines to test prototypes and help secure trust among consumers. Suppliers of traditional aircraft should look for opportunities to position themselves to serve e-aviation as well.

Top priorities to clear the take-off of e-aviation: We believe nearly all players in the aviation industry can integrate this potentially high-growth and transformative sector into their growth strategies by focusing on several areas.

  • Surmounting the last hurdles for the e-aircraft market.
  • Creating an infrastructure to serve both battery and hydrogen-powered aircraft.
  • Improving the readiness and interest of airlines and/or operators to invest capital in new platforms to open new regional routes.
  • Confirming a certification standard for full electric commercial aircrafts by the FAA and other airworthiness authorities.
  • Accelerating levels of investment by industry stakeholders — as well as venture capital investors — to support the development of an e-aviation ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders, including OEMs, start-ups, airlines, federal, state and local governments and consumers. This could include developing dedicated units among industry OEMs and even the supplier networks or the emergence of a new Tesla-like enterprise that would spearhead that market, which could leave traditional OEMs years behind.
  • Developing greener sources of H2 supported by cross-sector global development.
  • Preparing for a future in which the e-aviation market expands and puts even more pressure on the global shortage of pilots that commercial aviation is now experiencing.

 

Scott Thompson is the global aerospace and defense leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Thierry Despres is the enterprise strategy director for PricewaterhouseCoopers

 

The post OPINION – Electric Aviation: Can Small Electric and Hydrogen Aircraft Usher in its Future? [UPDATED] appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: How Cirrus Aircraft Operators are Flying with a New IQ

Cirrus Aircraft’s Ivy McIver and Seneca Giese are the two guests on this episode.

On this episode of the Connected Aviation Intelligence Podcast, we’re joined by two guests, including Ivy McIver, a pilot and director of the SR Product Line at Cirrus Aircraft and the company’s director of business development, Seneca Giese.

Two years ago, Cirrus Aircraft released its new Cirrus IQ app, giving SR20, SR22, and SR22T pilots and maintainers the ability to remotely check the status and performance of systems and components on their aircraft. McIver and Giese explain how Cirrus IQ works and what new features they’re developing and adding to it.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play. If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they’re released.

The post PODCAST: How Cirrus Aircraft Operators are Flying with a New IQ appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA, United Airlines, and Sun Country to Keynote Upcoming 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit

The FAA’s Luci Holemans is the Day 1 opening keynote speaker for the Connected Aviation Intelligence event.

The opening keynote speakers for all three days of the upcoming 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit—jointly presented by Avionics International and sister publication Via Satellite—occurring June 1–3, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Reston, in Reston, Virginia.

Here are the three keynote speakers that have been confirmed for all three days of the live event this year listed below:

  • Day 1 — Luci Holemans, ATO Cybersecurity Group Manager, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Day 2 — Becky Selzer, Chief of Staff to the Chief Digital Officer, United Airlines
  • Day 3 — Colton Snow, Vice President Product & eCommerce, Sun Country Airlines

The FAA provided a brief overview of what Holemans will focus on in her upcoming speech:

“Technology has contributed greatly to the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS). It has also resulted in highly integrated and increasingly interdependent connection of computers and networks supporting the aviation community. Recent events, including Russia – Ukraine, Log4j, JetBrains and SolarWinds have proven threat actor capabilities to develop and use more sophisticated and malicious cyber-attacks against our mission critical systems and services.  As the FAA migrates to adopt a Zero Trust strategy, it is ever more important that the we build and maintain relationships within industry and the Government to share intelligence for mutual defense and protection of the Aviation Ecosystem.”

Connected Aviation Intelligence was first launched as an in-flight connectivity (IFC) conference and exhibition in 2014 under its previous name, the Global Connected Aircraft Summit. After postponing the event for two years due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, the event has been re-launched as a live, in-person, three-day event, with networking opportunities, panels, presentations, and keynotes from the likes of SpaceX, United Airlines, American Airlines, Airbus, International Airlines Group (IAG), SmartSky Networks, Gogo Business Aviation, GE Aviation, Verizon Robotics, and more!

Check out the full agenda for the 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence event and register to attend today by clicking here.>>

 

The post FAA, United Airlines, and Sun Country to Keynote Upcoming 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Lufthansa Opts for Panasonic Avionics in Boeing 747-8 Cabin IFEC Upgrades

Lufthansa is adding cabin IFEC upgrades from Panasonic Avionics to its fleet of Boeing 747-8 jets. (Photo courtesy of Lufthansa)

Lufthansa is upgrading its Boeing 747-8 fleet with the NEXT in-flight entertainment (IFE) system supplied by Panasonic Avionics, according to a May 19 announcement between the two companies.

NEXT is the IFE system developed by Panasonic that provides airline passengers with access to in-flight Internet, live television, and other streaming content services while also giving airlines data and analytical insights about IFE content usage trends. Under the agreement confirmed in their new announcement, Panasonic has confirmed that Lufthansa is also renewing an existing agreement for connectivity services already deployed on other Lufthansa wide body model aircraft.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Panasonic Avionics again,” Paul Estoppey, Head of Product Management Cabin at Lufthansa Group, said in a statement. “Our Boeing 747-8s are an integral part of our long-haul fleet, and we’re confident that this investment in Panasonic Avionics’ in-flight entertainment will be popular with our passengers.”

Panasonic will also provide mobile phone connectivity upgraded to “4G speeds” on Lufthansa’s 747-8 aircraft with their AeroMobile service.

The cabin IFE agreement is divided between the 747-8’s business class, which will be upgraded to 24-inch 4K screens with 10-inch control units and USB–A / USB-C, AC power, and wireless charging capabilities. In the premium economy class section, 16-inch 4K screens are being added, while 13-inch 4K screen upgrades will be added to the economy class.

“We are delighted to be partnering once again with Lufthansa with this upgrade of the passenger experience on their flagship long-haul fleet,” Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said, commenting on the new Lufthansa-Panasonic agreement.

The Panasonic agreement on 747-8 cabin IFEC upgrades comes following another recent long-haul Boeing fleet investment made by Lufthansa to purchase seven new Boeing 787-9s, three Boeing 777 freighters, and seven Boeing 777-8Fs. The Panasonic cabin interior upgrades are being added to a total of 19 747-8s operated by Lufthansa and the first upgraded 747-8 cabin is expected to be ready for passenger-carrying flights by the summer of 2024.

The post Lufthansa Opts for Panasonic Avionics in Boeing 747-8 Cabin IFEC Upgrades appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Thales Targeting 2026 for PureFlyt FMS on Airbus A320, A330 and A350

The Thales PureFlyt flight management system, shown here under development at their facility in Toulouse, has been selected by Airbus for the A320, A330, and A350 jets. (Photo courtesy of Thales)

A selection of the PureFlyt system by Airbus for future production A320, A330, and A350 aircraft earlier this month gives Thales its first commercial air transport platform for its next generation flight management computer hardware and software (FMC).

PureFlyt is the flight management system (FMS) Thales first started developing in 2015, before publicly unveiling it during a 2019 media briefing. The core next generation functionality included in the PureFlyt computer is its direct connection to air traffic systems and cloud-based connectivity. Thales has also developed an algorithm within PureFlyt that constantly suggests optimal flight path changes to pilots based on searches of air traffic, weather, and other flight environment data through its native connection to off-board systems.

Yannick Assouad, executive vice president of Thales’ avionics division, provided follow up comments during a media briefing on the selection held shortly after the PureFlyt-Airbus announcement was released. She clarified how and where the company was looking to use artificial intelligence (AI) within PureFlyt.

“The system will be certified to the highest design assurance and safety level, and that safety level currently does not allow AI,” Assouad said. “We’re using AI on the open side of the FMS, the side handling non-safety critical applications, to compute optimized flight paths and suggest flight path changes to the pilot.”

Another image of PureFlyt at the Thales facility in Toulouse. (Photo courtesy of Thales)

Once certified, PureFlyt will become an equipment option for Airbus A320, A330, and A350 operators. Airbus also recently confirmed the selection of a next-generation commercial flight management system being developed by Honeywell Aerospace for the same three aircraft models.

Assouad said the selection was key for Thales, which is also providing a military helicopter version of its cloud-based connected FMS technology, FlytX, for the French military. In September, Thales announced it had begun flight testing FlytX in a modified Cabri helicopter, for a cockpit that has been selected by Airbus Helicopters and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the Guépard, a future light joint helicopter, as well as by VR-Technologies for the future single-turbine light helicopter, VRT500.

As of March 31, the reported commercial aircraft order backlog for Airbus amounted to 7,023. Thales expects to achieve entry into service for PureFlyt across all three of the targeted Airbus commercial aircraft models by the end of 2026.

“So what is specific about this new FMS? It is open architecture,” Assouad said during the briefing. “Today on the Airbus platforms, the flight management system we supply is a very closed platform. This [Pureflyt] platform will ease the way pilots plan for their routes.”

Some of the other new innovations Thales is featuring on PureFlyt include initial 4D trajectory management, selectable optimized descent profiles, and the ability to communicate dynamic real-time changes to an aircraft’s flight path with air traffic controllers using traditional data link or airline operations center messaging.

Thales is one of several avionics manufacturers we’ve recently covered that are working on major upgrades to existing flight management computer designs or completely new next generation versions for a range of different air transport jets and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, including Collins Aerospace, Honeywell, Universal Avionics ,and GE Aviation.

According to Assouad, Thales expects to be ready to start flight testing PureFlyt with Airbus for its commercial airliners by 2025.

The post Thales Targeting 2026 for PureFlyt FMS on Airbus A320, A330 and A350 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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American Makes Microsoft Azure Preferred Cloud Provider for Airline Applications

The American Airlines Integrated Operations Center in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

American Airlines has selected Microsoft Azure as its new “preferred cloud platform” for airline applications such as airport taxiing decisions as well as storage and access to flight operational and other organizational data and information.

Microsoft Azure is American’s latest adoption of cloud computing, after previously engaging in a partnership with IBM that helped migrate several of its enterprise applications including passenger-facing services available on aa.com, their mobile app, and their airport kiosk application on the IBM Cloud Platform as a Service technology. Now, American envisions a future where Microsoft Azure makes it so that “every aspect of the customer experience and airline operations will be optimized using advanced analytics and other digital technologies.”

Maya Leibman, chief information officer for American Airlines, commented on the new partnership, stating that “with the power of Microsoft Azure, American can innovate and accelerate its technology transformation, giving our team members augmented tools to provide our customers an enhanced travel experience.”

Microsoft describes its Azure Global platform as a super-computing network of data centers, integrated cloud computing services, and algorithms that are provided to customers—such as American—through service level agreements. Based on these agreements, Microsoft runs enterprise level IT systems, services, and applications on its global network of virtual machines, edge computing,  deep learning algorithms, and other products that enable digital transformation.

In all, the Azure network has more than 200 physical data centers along with over 100,000 miles of fiber optic and sub-sea scale cabling. There are also 150 ground-based edge center locations within the network. A Feb. 2 press release announcing a global partnership between Teradata and Microsoft Azure also named American Airlines as one of the companies using Teradata Vantage on Azure—a software-as-a-service advanced analytics platform.

American is already working with Microsoft to leverage Azure’s AI, machine learning, and data analytics for gating decisions at the 136 different gates operated at its Dallas Fort Worth, Texas (DFW) airport hub. The goal is to augment some of the manual decisions made by gate planners with Azure’s ability to look at multiple data points simultaneously for the hundreds of American Airlines daily arrivals.

A new Azure-based “Operations Hub” will also become the new cloud-based host of American’s data warehouse.

The move makes American the latest major U.S.-based carrier to select a new preferred cloud services provider, following United’s selection of Amazon Web Services in November.

“As the airline industry continues to transform, building a digital technology foundation in the cloud will be essential for future resilience,” Judson Althoff, EVP and chief commercial officer, Microsoft, said in a statement. “Through our partnership, American Airlines is taking a forward-thinking, cloud-first approach to using data, AI and our collaboration platforms to reimagine not only its own operations, but the experiences of its employees and customers.”

The post American Makes Microsoft Azure Preferred Cloud Provider for Airline Applications appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Perspectives on eVTOL Certification from Honeywell, Jaunt, Archer, Joby

Avionics asked industry leaders Honeywell Aerospace, Jaunt Air Mobility, Archer Aviation, and Joby Aviation for their thoughts on the current certification process for eVTOL aircraft in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Jaunt)

Manufacturers of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to establish a path to certification and make progress towards achieving certification for these new types of vehicles.

Jaunt Air Mobility plans to launch by 2026, while Archer Aviation expects to begin its eVTOL aircraft operations by the end of 2024. Joby Aviation has also outlined a launch date in 2024. Whether these objectives will be possible or not depends on the regulatory framework in place for advanced air mobility (AAM) systems.

Jia Xu, CTO and senior director of engineering and unmanned aerial systems/urban air mobility at Honeywell Aerospace, weighed in on the regulatory approach in the U.S. for certifying AAM aircraft and systems in an emailed statement to Avionics International. According to Xu, “The industry needs clarity and consistency to achieve safe operations at scale. If the intent is to create a more flexible, consistent and future-proof regulatory framework for certifying UAM vehicles then we are all for it.” 

Xu also cautioned against drawing conclusions too quickly about the impacts of any potential changes to existing FAA regulations. “Honeywell will continue to work with the FAA and vehicle developers to ensure that eVTOLs achieve the highest levels of safety,” he wrote. He also commented that Honeywell welcomes efforts made to standardize requirements for certification of urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft.

Jesse Crispino, Chief Operations Officer at Jaunt Air Mobility, explained that certification of their Journey eVTOL model is being pursued under the long-established Part 27/29 rotorcraft rules. Traditional rotorcraft, with a single main rotor lifting device, continue to be categorized as Part 27/29, he stated.

The requirements for training commercial-powered lift pilots in the Code of Federal Regulations are very specific, Crispino remarked, and are distinct from requirements for helicopter and airplane pilots. “If the FAA sticks with using the Powered Lift certification, specific training will be necessary for a number of eVTOLs,” he wrote in an emailed statement to Avionics.

Jaunt announced a partnership with Avports earlier this year to evaluate eVTOL integration into the existing ecosystem. eVTOL aircraft are evolving very rapidly to meet future demand for AAM services, and Jaunt’s Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Briceno, commented that the company takes a very realistic approach to planning and implementing initial operations. More than 90% of the key elements that Jaunt needs to begin operations are already in place, he noted.

A representative from Archer Aviation shared with Avionics that their timeline for certification remains unchanged. “Archer has worked closely with the FAA on the certification process,” the representative mentioned. 

“As a company pioneering a new form of transportation, we welcome the efforts of the FAA to provide a framework around the design and manufacture of an aircraft that is safe and approved for commercial use. We remain in constant communication and collaboration with the FAA and look forward to continuing our work with them towards certification of our production aircraft.”

Archer is one of only a handful of eVTOL developers that has received the Special Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA. One of the company’s recent achievements towards certification was its eVTOL’s first successful hover flight, which happened in December 2021. The company’s flight testing continues, and according to their Q1 2022 Letter to Shareholders, they are coordinating with the FAA to complete the G-2 Means of Compliance by the end of this year.

The founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, JoeBen Bevirt, offered his perspective on the topic during Joby’s first-quarter earnings conference call, “We share [the FAA’s] vision for reaching the next level of safety and efficiency,” said Bevirt. “We are in active conversations with them about the most expedient route to certifying our aircraft. All of the development work done by current applicants remain valid. They don’t expect any change of approach to add delays to type certification or operational approval. We’re not providing any change to our guidance and we remain focused on doing the important and necessary work to certify our aircraft.”

Joby’s team has achieved FAA acceptance for 80% of their means of compliance thus far, according to the Letter to Shareholders that was published last week. The company is now focused on manufacturing the tail and wing structural assemblies.

 

The post Perspectives on eVTOL Certification from Honeywell, Jaunt, Archer, Joby appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Urban Movement Labs Is Bringing Advanced Air Mobility to Los Angeles

Overair has joined the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, led by Urban Movement Labs, to advance UAM operations in Los Angeles. Other partners include Volocopter, Skyroads, and Helinet. (Photo, courtesy of Skyroads)

Overair, the company developing the Butterfly eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, and Urban Movement Labs have entered into a new partnership which was announced this week. Urban Movement Labs, or UML, is an organization based in Los Angeles seeking to define problems with transportation and explore solutions to these problems through collaboration with businesses and public sector partners. The organization leads a program called the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, which includes the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Volocopter, Helinet, Skyroads, and now Overair.

Based in Santa Ana, California, Overair is now looking to bring its eVTOL vehicle to Los Angeles and build the necessary infrastructure for urban air mobility (UAM) services there. Overair is planning to begin commercial operations in 2026. Its Butterfly aircraft will be able to transport passengers or cargo at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, and a maximum distance of 100 miles.

Overair and UML aim to take a collaborative approach in implementing safe and sustainable UAM technology through engagement with the community, government, and industry. More specifically, Overair will evaluate the noise impact of eVTOL aircraft on communities, and the company will coordinate with other members of the Urban Air Mobility Partnership to develop plans for establishing UAM infrastructure in Los Angeles.

Overair will explore the applications for its Butterfly eVTOL aircraft in Los Angeles in partnership with UML. (Photo courtesy of Overair)

“The Los Angeles metro area can benefit greatly from advanced air mobility, given the increased travel times in Southern California on a daily basis,” explained Overair’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Tigner. “Working together with UML on planning efforts grounded in community engagement, we’re on the path to providing reliable, affordable, equitable, and sustainable transportation options to the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas.”

The team at Urban Movement Labs is optimistic about the addition of Overair to their UAM Partnership. By leveraging Overair’s current technology, UML will have more opportunities to engage with the communities in Los Angeles and inform them regarding planned UAM operations, stated UML Executive Director Sam Morrissey.

Last week, Urban Movement Labs announced another company joining the UAM Partnership. Skyroads, developer of intelligent systems for scaling advanced air mobility, will collaborate with the City of Los Angeles in addition to UAM operators and OEMs to study applications for its systems. Skyroads has developed two solutions that could be key for the future UAM: the Automated Airspace Management and Vehicle Guidance Systems.

According to the announcement from UML, the technology offered by Skyroads will integrate safe drone and eVTOL operations into the urban airspace. Their Automated Airspace Management System is a new decentralized networking system for the intelligent infrastructure that will be required to ensure safety and efficiency in air traffic management, and especially in complex urban airspaces.

Achim Kostron, Chief Commercial Officer at Skyroads, commented on the new partnership: “New methods of multi-agency coordination need to be tested to bring all relevant stakeholders to the table and assure that all preconditions for this new transport mode are met. Jointly with UML, we are making sure this happens in a sustainable and socially beneficial way.” 

Yet another company joined UML in its UAM Partnership last month. Aviation operator Helinet will assist in exploring integration of new eVTOL technology into their operations in a way that reduces impact on the community. Helinet brings a wide range of expertise in chartered passenger travel, time-sensitive transportation of medical supplies, rapid parcel delivery, aerial firefighting, and filming from the sky. Helinet can also contribute knowledge of requirements for ground-based infrastructure—such as optimal capacities for electric charging stations. 

UML announced that Helinet joined as a new partner at the end of April. This partnership will explore how aviation operators could integrate new eVTOL technology into operations to reduce community impacts. (Photo courtesy of Helinet)

The Helinet team will be involved in testing advanced air mobility aircraft and exploration of potential routes. UML’s Sam Morrissey noted that the UAM Partnership will benefit from Helinet’s expertise, which will “inform policy development for both aerial operations and ground-based infrastructure needs,” he said. “Additionally, the social-focused use cases, such as transporting critically ill children to hospitals, organ delivery, and firefighting missions, represent a huge value to the partnership members.” 

The UAM Partnership was first announced by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the end of 2020. “The Urban Air Mobility Partnership will make our city a force for cleaner skies, safer transportation, expanded prosperity, and stunning innovation, and provide a template for how other local governments can take this new technology to even greater heights,” Garcetti stated. The UAM Partnership initially began as a year-long project, but it continues to evolve as a key force in the advanced air mobility industry.

The post Urban Movement Labs Is Bringing Advanced Air Mobility to Los Angeles appeared first on Aviation Today.

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First-Quarter Updates from Archer, Joby, and Eve

The newly formed Eve Holding began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week. Two eVTOL developers, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation, released their financial results from the first quarter of 2022. (Photo, courtesy of Eve)

Last week, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation released the details of their first-quarter financial results, and Eve Holding began trading on the New York Stock Exchange following their combination with Zanite Acquisition Corp. 

Eve, a subsidiary of Embraer and previously referred to as Eve Urban Air Mobility (UAM), was listed on the NYSE as EVEX on May 10. The business combination was first announced to the public at the end of 2021. 

The co-CEO André Stein believes that the UAM market has a potential value of $760 billion. “This transaction is a key enabler of our mission to become a leading player” in that market, he remarked. The company’s launch orders total about $5 billion, or 1,825 vehicles, from 19 customers, according to Eve. Those customers include Azorra Aviation, Falko Regional Aircraft, SkyWest, and Republic Airways. Eve expects deliveries to begin in 2026.

Although Embraer reported a net loss for Q1 2022, they are confident in Eve’s potential. Embraer’s president and CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, said, “Eve is well positioned to be a global leader by delivering an effective and sustainable new mode of urban transportation. [Eve] plays a key role in our growth strategy driven by innovation and enterprise efficiency.” Eve also shared the gross proceeds generated from the closing of the business combination last week, which amounted to $377 million. These funds will go towards development and certification of Eve’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Joby Aviation, the California-based eVTOL developer with a target commercial launch of 2024, published details of their finances in Q1, including a net loss of $62.3 million and $94.3 million in operating expenses. Other details from the company’s Letter to Shareholders included progress in manufacturing most of the large composite parts for Joby’s first production-intent aircraft, and achieving FAA acceptance of 80% of their means of compliance so far. 

Based on data from NASA’s testing, Joby’s aircraft demonstrated the low noise targets the company set for itself. The eVTOL aircraft registered the equivalent of 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) from an altitude of 1640 feet (500 meters) at 100 knots airspeed, according to the company. (Photo courtesy of Joby)

Next, Joby’s focus for manufacturing is the tail and wing structural assemblies, and the company’s first design-intent Electric Propulsion Unit is undergoing testing for durability and performance. Joby also shared that NASA testing has confirmed that the acoustic profile of their eVTOL aircraft was in line with their original expectations. 

Archer Aviation also released their financial results for the first quarter of 2022. Net loss for Q1 was $59.2 million, and GAAP operating expenses were $65.3 million. Non-GAAP total operating expenses came in at $39.6 million for the quarter. In the Letter to Shareholders, CEO Adam Goldstein stated, “We plan to fly [our eVTOL aircraft] on a routine basis in the second half of this year and quickly progress through more and more advanced flight tests until the aircraft performs a full flight envelope test flight from hover through to wing-borne flight. We remain on-track to complete this first full ‘transition’ flight with Maker in the second half of 2022.”

“The Archer team remains singularly focused on our vision of getting to commercialization as expeditiously as possible.” – Archer’s CEO, Adam Goldstein (Photo courtesy of Archer)

Archer is currently working to complete the G-2 Means of Compliance with the FAA and expects to achieve this by the end of 2022. The company has also started detailed part design in addition to procuring long lead production tooling for their aircraft’s structure.

Archer’s strategic partnerships formed in the first quarter of this year include the Joint eVTOL Advisory Committee, a collaboration with United Airlines. Another important partnership resulted from Archer’s selection of Hexcel to supply the high-performance carbon fiber and resin systems needed to produce the Maker eVTOL aircraft.

The post First-Quarter Updates from Archer, Joby, and Eve appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Volocopter and Microsoft Collaborate to Develop Aerospace Cloud System

Volocopter and Microsoft are collaborating to develop an aerospace cloud system. Microsoft Azure will be used to enable VoloIQ as Volocopter’s digital platform for its UAM vehicles and ground infrastructure. (Photo, courtesy of Volocopter)

Urban air mobility (UAM) company Volocopter announced this week that they have entered a strategic collaboration with Microsoft, aimed at developing an aerospace cloud system in Microsoft Azure. If successful, Azure will enable Volocopter’s digital platform—VoloIQ—to provide flight and service support for VoloCity, VoloDrone, and VoloConnect, the three electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft models designed by Volocopter. VoloIQ will also be capable of supporting Volocopter’s vertiports, called VoloPorts, in real time.

Volocopter received design organization approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2019, and two years later the company received a Production Organization Approval in July 2021, allowing production of its eVTOL aircraft to begin. In September of last year, Volocopter revealed that they will also explore a U.S. launch of their UAM aircraft, facilitated by a new partnership with Los Angeles-based company Urban Movement Labs. 

The VoloIQ software will be used as Volocopter’s standard UAM operating system for its vehicles. The team plans to enable VoloIQ for a variety of functions, including monitoring weather conditions; booking and e-commerce; flight planning; vehicle data logging and analysis; commercial scheduling; and operational network planning. The structure of the VoloIQ software will also supply airspace digital twins. Utilizing Microsoft Cloud/Azure, Volocopter will be able to connect and fully integrate these various elements into one set of services, according to the company’s announcement.

Microsoft has collaborated with Volocopter since 2020, when the UAM company partnered with Lufthansa Industry to enable use of the VoloIQ for autonomous vehicles with Microsoft Azure.

One of the priorities in developing the VoloIQ platform, powered by Microsoft Azure, is to make Volocopter’s services both user-friendly and digitally accessible. VoloIQ also offers the potential to optimize management of the VoloPorts, specifically to make this infrastructure more cost-efficient and to lower maintenance requirements.

Pictured above is Volocopter’s full-scale testing prototype, the 2X, performing a flight test at Pontoise airfield in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Volocopter)

Alexander Oelling, Volocopter’s Chief Digital Officer, remarked in the company’s announcement this week on the selection of Microsoft Azure, “Having Microsoft on board as a project partner and investor is proof that the solutions Volocopter creates—like the VoloIQ—are pioneering and hold remarkable market potential.” 

Corporate VP of Cloud and AI at Microsoft, Uli Homann, shared that their team looks forward to collaborating with Volocopter and building the foundation for a commercial model of the aerospace cloud system. “From the newest technologies to regulation, creating solutions to seamlessly address the cloud computing requirements for supporting continued advancements in aviation is a complex endeavor,” Homann stated. “We certainly see the potential a secure, robust, and efficient cloud platform could offer aerospace and urban air mobility operators.”

Two months ago, Volocopter accomplished a significant milestone, becoming the first developer of eVTOL aircraft to conduct remotely piloted and crewed test flights in France. Volocopter’s 2X, the full-scale testing prototype, performed the crewed test flights on March 21 in Paris. The team evaluated the noise emissions of their aircraft and collected data that will inform the launch of UAM services in the region.

The post Volocopter and Microsoft Collaborate to Develop Aerospace Cloud System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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