Revolution.Aero Uplift: FIA – White paper planes
If revolution is defined as a sudden, radical, or complete change, then the next in aviation is happening right now.
More AAM applications were being exhibited, discussed and invested in at Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) than ever before. And all of it during the hottest week of the year. Temperatures peaked at around 36degC on Monday before climbing to nearer 39degC (101F) on Tuesday.
Despite the extreme conditions, it was the white heat of technology which proved the catalyst for conversation in the airshow’s air conditioned (AC) halls and chalets (at least until the AC broke temporarily).
On the orders front, Eve signed a letter of intent (LoI) for up to 150 eVTOLs with BAE Systems. Although Eve’s eVTOLs have been designed for the UAM market, the interest from BAE shows capabilities can be adapted for defence purposes, said Embraer. Eve exhibited its eVTOL cabin design for the first time at the show. The cabin was on display at Embaer’s Fly the Future exhibition alongside the firm’s other sustainable aircraft concepts.
Eve signed two LoIs at the show. The second, with Halo Aviation, will see Halo acquire Eve’s Urban Air Traffic Management software solution for its UAM operations. This is the first LoI signed for Eve’s software and follows on from last year’s non-binding commitment from Halo to order up to 200 eVTOLs.
Norwegian airline, Widerøe has become the first to join Embraer’s Energia Advisory Group. It signed an MoU with the Brazilian OEM to help develop the Energia series of zero emission aircraft from 19-50 seats.
Ascendance Flight Technologies has opened its order book. The French start-up has revealed six LoIs amounting to 245 units of its five-seat Atea hybrid-electric VTOL. Demo flights are set for the Paris Olympics 2024, with production to commence in 2025.
Ampaire secured a firm order backed by deposits from WingTips for five of its nine-seat Eco Caravan, plus an option for an additional 20. WingTips plans to use the aircraft on regional routes of 100 to 400miles.
Hyundai and Rolls Royce signed an MoU to bring all-electric propulsion and hydrogen fuel cell technology to AAM. The signing, which took place at Supernal’s show booth, has committed to delivering a joint fuel-cell electric aircraft demonstration by 2025.
Rolls-Royce also announced a partnership with easyJet referred to as H2ZERO, which will develop hydrogen combustion engine technologies starting later this year and aims to power aircraft by the mid-2030s.
Elsewhere, CAE and Piper Aircraft are to develop a conversion kit via a supplemental type certificate (STC) for in-service PA-28-181 aircraft. The programme will also see the firms bring an electric variant to market. Safran will supply its ENGINeUS 100 electric smart motor to the Piper.
CAE also teamed up with Vertical Aerospace to become the eVTOL developer’s global training partner. Now Vertical’s VX4 pilots will be trained on CAE’s flight simulators tailored to the eVTOL using mixed reality and AI.
Training is no distant prospect. GKN Aerospace has just delivered the electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) for Vertical’s first VX4 prototype from its Bristol-based technology centre. John Pritchard, president, Civil Airframe, GKN Aerospace said he expects to see the first VX4 flying very soon.
Vertical is also forming part of the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium which has been granted £9.5m by the UK government to build an advanced electric flight ecosystem. The consortium is made up of Virgin Atlantic, Atkins, Skyports and NATS, Connected Places Catapult, Cranfield University and University of Warwick.
Babcock and Vertical announced a partnership to explore new uses for the VX4 such as aerial EMS and cargo transportation. The two companies will also look at MRO for the VX4 to assist with cost effective maintenance of the aircraft in challenging locations.
Following on from May’s Part 135 certification by the FAA, Joby Aviation has now applied to the UK CAA for type certification. It comes after the FAA and CAA said they will use the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement to “streamline” the introduction of eVTOLs using existing regulatory frameworks.
Electric aircraft developer, VoltAero is to use Thales’ FlytLink Edge computing system on its Cassio aircraft. The system performs real-time processing of imagery from on-board cameras using AI, supporting functions like obstacle detection and air traffic. FlytLink’s validation is currently underway using the Cassio 1 testbed.
The French OEM has also selected Safran’s ENGINeUS 100 smart electric motor in the aircraft’s parallel electric-hybrid propulsion system in the Cassio 330. The agreement was signed today at the show.
Now past the halfway mark there has been over 12 major announcements across the AAM sector made at the airshow. You can bet there will be many more by the next time we’re together again.