Ampaire awarded direct-to-phase 2 contract by USAF
Ampaire has been awarded a $1.25m contract by the United States Air Force (USAF) to begin developing a megawatt-scale hybrid propulsion system.
The collaboration, which comes in the form of a direct-to-phase 2 small business innovation research (SBIR) contract from the AFWERX AFVentures Open Topic program. Ampaire’s AMP-H570 hybrid powertrain, which was developed initially for commercial applications on the Cessna Caravan, will now be used for military dual-use applications.
Kevin Noertker, CEO Ampaire, tells Revolution.Aero: “Ampaire we’re looking to re-power Aviation with sustainable solutions. As such, it’s very important that we build systems that are broadly applicable across the breadth of aviation.”
A militarised, twin engine, Beechcraft King Air aircraft is set to be outfitted into the first megawatt-scale prototype. It will be the first build and test of Ampaire’s second generation AMP-H570 powertrain unit. “Supercharged” by the support of the US Air Force, the firm said it looks forward to a long relationship, creating megawatt-scale hybrid technology for the entire US military.
“It’s our first major contract with the US Air Force outside of those associated with our Talyn Air acquisition earlier this summer, and it is a meaningful extension of the technology development, vehicle application, and market entry strategies,” says Noertker. “The approach that we’re taking at Ampaire, of upgrading existing planes, is applicable to so many airplanes. This is an important demonstration of that flexibility.”
The CEO believes defence opportunities will become important for the industry as they can accelerate early deliveries and revenue, decoupling from the timelines for FAA (and equivalent international) regulatory approvals. “You’ve likely already seen strategies like this picked up by some of the major eVTOL developers,” adds Noertker.
In order for aviation to decarbonise and affect the broadest cross-section of people, it’s critical that systems scale to planes larger than general aviation. This is no different for Ampaire, says Noertker. “Developing this megawatt-scale propulsion capability is the next step toward enabling scale to larger and higher power planes.”