Revolution.Aero Uplift: All About Eve (‘s 200 eVTOLs)
Kenn Ricci’s Directional Aviation has once again raised the stakes for business aviation companies, this time through a partnership with Embraer’s UAM wing – Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions. Less than a month ago, helicopter operator Halo Aviation became part of Directional’s OneSky portfolio. Now, it will be the launch customer for 200 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2026.
OneSky has been gradually building an empire of companies across business aviation – Flexjet, Sentient Jet, PrivateFly, FXAIR – with a clear strategy towards advanced air mobility. And now, with the acquisition earlier this year of Associated Aircraft Group (AAG) and Halo Aviation, it has added vertical lift to that empire.
Ricci also floated a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) in 2020, called Zanite Acquisition Corp, with an eye on “electric aviation, sustainable aviation and other emerging technologies”.
Eve and Halo are set to develop eVTOL operations, as well as an air traffic management system, in the UK and US. Halo will combine its helicopter bases around London and other parts of the UK with AAG’s east coast bases.
In the run up to eVTOL operations, Halo will support Flexjet and Sentient Jet’s clients as they land in the UK with its existing aircraft. Halo CEO, Will Fanshawe, recently told our sister title Helicopter Investor: “It’s about tying that seamless service across the Atlantic.”
“Embraer is producing aircraft now and it has a network of global facilities. It is probably the most advanced eVTOL manufacturer at the moment,” added Fanshawe.
Ricci agrees, saying: “We believe Eve has designed an aircraft that is well-prepared for not only initial certification but also has a proven track record of production.”
Eve will initially focus on delivering a four-passenger piloted air taxi, with autonomous capabilities in the future. CEO Andre Stein told Revolution.Aero the price of Eve’s air taxi service will be similar to premium ridesharing platforms, starting at “potentially between 50-100% on top of what UberX would cost”.
Stein added: “We want to do more than what a typical OEM does today. Be part of that [urban air mobility] operation, but also go one step further and engage you with the local operators – both from fixed wing and helicopter worlds – to sell capacity.”
He brings years of experience with Embraer and most recently as head of strategy for Embraer’s market accelerator EmbraerX (X for exponential) – from which Eve was born.
Stein said finding the right partners in different markets is essential. “One size does not fit all and we believe that one single company cannot create the solution itself. It’s always about finding the other pieces of the ecosystem.”
This is a concept that several other business aviation companies are using to enter the space. Bell Textron and Wheels Up are planning helicopter service later this year. While fifth largest for-hire private aviation company, Jet Linx will work with Blade for UAM operations. And most recently, Lilium announced a partnership with Luxaviation – for airline operations in Europe.
Luxaviation and Lilium
There are great merits to business aviation companies partnering with advanced air mobility ones, according to Christophe Lapierre, head of strategy, Luxaviation Group.
“You cannot copy and paste what is being done today in business aviation. It is the ability that we have developed to unbundle all the operations – training, dispatch, airworthiness and maintenance – in different departments. This is how we can support building the full journey for the eVTOLs entering the new market,” said Lapierre.
They aim to launch commercial airline operations by 2024, using the seven-seater eVTOL, Lilium Jet.
A Lilium spokesperson told Revolution.Aero: “Luxaviation is a leading operator in the aviation sector with a track record in offering innovative and customer-focused service. It’s exceptional experience in securing necessary operation approvals and managing pilots will be hugely valuable.”
Luxaviation’s experience with its “FBO network was a very strong point to support a full new ecosystem”. It also secured the first European Union Aviation Safety Agency AOC approval for a business jet operator. In the lead up to commercial launch, it will help with certificating the Lilium Jet as well as arranging for operation processes.
“We are planning on developing our first US regional network in Florida. We expect to start with four vertiports at launch, before expanding to a network of 14 across Florida to add 1,200 miles of connectivity,”added the Lilium spokesperson.
It is easy to get swayed by the shiny tech and concept videos. But Lapierre says, the strength of the team to see the broader applications of their project, as well as the capability to raise funding will determine the success of eVTOL manufacturers.
And no doubt the experience of business aviation entrepreneurs and companies, such as Ricci, Embraer and Luxaviation, will play a crucial role in bringing advanced air mobility to life.