H2FLY Made World’s First Piloted Flight of Liquid  Hydrogen Powered Electric Aircraft

H2FLY, the Stuttgart, Germany-based developer of hydrogen-electric powertrain systems for aircraft, announced on 7 September that it has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.

The H2FLY team has completed four flights powered by liquid hydrogen as part of its flight test campaign, including one flight that lasted for over three hours. The flights were completed with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen that powered the aircraft.

Results of the test flights indicate that using liquid hydrogen in place of gaseous hydrogen will double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft from 750 km to 1,500 km, marking a critical step towards the delivery of emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights.

It is worth mentioning that H2FLY was acquired by the leading eVTOL company Joby in 2021.

The successful campaign marks a significant milestone for H2FLY, reflecting the extensive insights from the company’s research efforts. Moreover, it is the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.

Beside project HEAVEN, the work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMVD), and The University of Ulm.

For more information please refer to: https://www.h2fly.de

Wisk and Archer Formed Partnership instead of the Litigation

How do you get out of the litigation with a competent competitor? Perhaps by turning it into a partner and, even better, a shareholder could be a winning situation. This is the result of the year-long legal battle between Archer and Wisk now wholly-owned by Boeing.

On 10 August 2023 Wisk Aero (“Wisk”) and Archer Aviation (“Archer”) , along with The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) which is the mother company of Wisk, announced that they have reached a settlement to resolve the federal and state court litigation between the parties on undisclosed terms. Simultaneously, the parties have entered into a collaboration that looks forward to the growth and development of the advanced air mobility industry. Archer has agreed to make Wisk its exclusive provider of autonomy technology for future variants of Archer’s aircraft. As part of the parties’ collaboration, Boeing is making an investment in Archer that will support the integration of Wisk’s autonomous technology in future variants of Archer’s aircraft.

With this solution Archer successfully closed the oversubscribed PIPE as part Of $215M investment round led By Stellantis; ARK & United Airline. United Airlines’ investment in the PIPE is its third time investing in Archer as it originally invested $25M in 2021 in connection with entering into its aircraft purchase agreement with Archer for up to $1.5B worth of aircraft and just last year made a $10M pre-delivery payment for the first 100 of those aircraft

In addition to ARK Investment Management LLC (“ARK”) and United Airlines, the oversubscribed PIPE financing includes participation from an impressive roster of existing and new investors, including The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) and Ken Moelis, through a related investment vehicle

The PIPE investment combined with the $70M that Stellantis accelerated as part of its investment in this round under the January 2023 strategic funding agreement will bring Archer’s aggregate funding to over $1.1B to date.

Vertical’s eVTOL Prototype Had An Accident

On 9 August 2023 the British eVTOL startup Vertical Aerospace filed a K-6 form to the Securities and Exchang Commission (SEC) revealing an accident involved with its VX4 eVTOL prototype.

According to the filing, VX4 had an accident on Wednesday August 9, 2023 during flight testing at its Flight Test Centre at Cotswold Airport, UK. The aircraft was remotely piloted and there were no injuries.
Vertical Aerospace stated in the filing that the flight test programme is designed to establish the limits of the aircraft’s performance, and the incident occurred during an uncrewed test of the aircraft’s maneuverability during a motor failure test scenario, which is a key requirement to progress to crewed operations. They are working closely with the relevant authorities.

VX4 prototype of Vertical Aerospace

Archer Signed $142 Million Contract With US Military for 6 eVTOL

Ther American eVTOL startup Archer announced that it has significantly expanded its partnership with the DoD by signing new contracts with the U.S. Air Force with a total value of up to $142 million including the delivery of up to six of Archer’s Midnight aircraft to the Air Force, the sharing of additional flight test data and certification related test reports, pilot training, and the development of maintenance and repair operations.

According to Archer, this is the largest contract of the U.S. Air Force’s “Agility Prime” program as of today. Archer has been partnering with the DoD since 2021 on a series of projects through the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program with the goal of helping the AFWERX Agility Prime program assess the transformational potential of the vertical flight market and eVTOL technologies for DoD purposes. Now, with Archer recently completing the manufacturing of its first Midnight aircraft, the DoD recognizes that with its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, target payload of approximately 1,000lbs, proprietary electric powertrain system, and low noise profile, Archer’s aircraft represents a potential paradigm shift in military aviation and operations. These aircraft hold the promise of enhancing rapid response, agility, and operational effectiveness across a wide range of mission profiles, from personnel transport and logistics support to rescue operations and more. Archer’s Midnight aircraft are expected to provide a safer and quieter alternative to helicopters while being more cost-effective for the U.S. military to transport, operate and maintain in the field.

Autoflight Made World’s First Formation Flight of Three Autonomous eVTOL Aircraft

Autoflight, a leading eVTOL company with facilities in China and Germany, annouced on July 27 2023 that they have successfully executed a world’s first formation flight of three autonomous eVTOL aircraft in Shanghai.

Three of Autoflight’s “Prosperity I” eVTOL were involved in the groundbreaking flight, demonstrating the company’s capability in rapid prototype design, manufacturing, and its ambition to shape the future of aerial transportation.

“We aim to complement urban and regional means of transport for all people by building very safe, quiet, and affordable airtaxis,” says Tian Yu, Founder of Autoflight, who has decades of experience developing and delivering remotely piloted aircraft at an immense scale.

Lukasz Gadowski, legendary technology entrepreneur, investor, and backer of Autoflight, adds, “It is a delight to be part of a venture that’s reshaping the frontiers of technology and innovation. With this successful flight, we have set a new standard for the eVTOL industry.”

The company, with dual headquarters in Augsburg, Germany, and Shanghai, China, previously achieved a world record flight in February 2023 where one of their prototypes covered 250 km on a single battery charge, demonstrating the potential for sustainability in the sector.

Over the past 18 months, Autoflight has continued to revolutionize eVTOL technology, achieving a series of world firsts: the first full-scale eVTOL transition flight in January 2022 and the first eVTOL full length flight video release in June 2022.

The record-setting formation flight saw three generations of the “Prosperity I” aircraft, indicating the rapid evolution of the aircraft’s development. The company plans to make the prototypes into products, with a cargo version set to be released for safe cargo transport in Asia next year, and a passenger version gradually developed in the coming years, meeting the highest safety standards for aviation.

“The formation flight is a testament to our commitment towards making aerial transport safe, sustainable, and accessible,” says Mark Henning, former Airbus Helicopter Engineering Chief and head of the Autoflight Europe team. “We have much more to come.”

For more information: https://autoflight.com

Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 Took Off

On 20 July 2023, the all-electric eDA40 of Diamond Aircraft made its first flight at Diamond Aircraft’s headquarters in Wiener Neustadt in Austria. This marks a significant milestone for the manufacturer and is a big step towards certifying the aircraft. The first flight was piloted by Diamond’s Head of Flight Test Sören Pedersen the maiden flight covered system checks, all basic maneuvers and initial performance evaluation.

Diamond Aircraft annouced the eDA40 project in 2021 which will apply for EASA/FAA Part 23 certification. eDA40 is designed to target the flight training market. The electric propulsion is an ENGINeUSTM electric smart motor with 130kw peak power by Safran Electrical & Power and charged by Electric Power Systems’ (EPS) battery module equipped with a Direct Current (DC) fast charging system. eDA40 is designed to have 90 minutes duration and 20 minutes quick recharge which should be good enough for the circuit flights of flight training.

The eDA40 is scheduled to be presented at AERO Friedrichshafen and e-Flight-Expo from 17-20 April 2024.

For more information about eDA40: https://www.diamondaircraft.com/en/flight-school-solution/electric-aircraft/

CATL Formed Aviation JV with COMAC

on July 19 2023 the corporate registry in China indicated that a company called “Commercial Aicraft Times”(商飞时代)was formed. What is interesting is that this is a joint venture among CATL, the largest lithium battery manufacturer in the world, COMAC (China’s Airbus/Boeing equivalent and the manufacturer of China’s C919 jetliner) and Shanghai Jiaotong University (Jiaotong means “transportation” in Chinese and by no accident it is the alma mater of the founder and chairman of CATL). The name of the joint venture is obviously a combination of COMAC and CATL in Chinese language.

According to the description of the business scope in the corporate registry, the joint venture company’s business scope includes ” the design and production of civil aircraft parts, civil aircraft (engine, propeller) production, battery sales, etc.”

This partnership may be not a surprise considering that the three parties have already signed a MoU last year and CATL mentioned the possible aviation use at the introduction event unveiling its latest battery technology at Shanghai Auto Show in this April. It should be very interesting to see the outcome of this partnership.

Lilium Set Up Asia HQ in Shenzhen

local media reports that the German eVTOL manufacturer Lilium signed an agreement with the government of Bao’an district of Shenzhen city to set up their Asia headquarter in Bao’an district.

The agreement was the headline of the local daily newspaper

Lilium also reportedly signed 100 pre-order with a local helicopter operator.

As a background, Shenzhen is the head office of Tecent who is the largest shareholder of Lilium and who invested extra $100mn in Lilium in May

French Startup Zapata Revealed eVTOL Ultralight

Last week at the prominent technology trade show Viva Technology in Paris the French startup Zapata revealed its latest design “AirScooter” single-seat eVTOL.

The Airscooter can reach a cruising speed of 80 km/h, with a top speed of 100 km/h. Weighed at 115 kilograms empty, it is thus qualifed as Part 103 ultralight of FAA in the US which does not require an airworthiness certificate for sale nor a pilot license to use. It can carry a maximum load of 120 kilos, can achieve a range of up to two hours, much more than exclusively electric aircraft, thanks to a hybrid electric and combustion engine, with an 18.9-litre tank.

The company does not plan to sell AirScooter to individuals at this moment. Instead, it will be offered in flight centers in the United States, with the first flights planned for 2024 in Arizona, the US. The whole flying experience will include an introduction in virtual reality, training in a simulator, then a 40-minute flight under the close supervision of an instructor. 

The creator of AirScooter, Franky Zapata, is famous for unconventional but creative air vehicle. He is the inventor of the jet-powered Flyboard. Down the road Franky Zapata is looking forward to have the AirScooter transform not only leisure, but also daily commute by offering an affordable air travel alternative. In this way, the company hopes to contribute to relieving congestion in cities and reducing traffic congestion. To do this, it will be able to rely in particular on the industrial site it has just installed in Châteauneuf-Les-Martigues, from which it intends to eventually produce 1,000 AirScooters per year in series.

For more information: https://www.zapata.com 

Norwegian Startup Elfly Unveiled Electric Amphibian Aircraft

On 14 June 2023 Norwegian start-up Elfly Group unveiled their full electric amphibian named “Noemi” (no emission) in Oslo, Norway. The company said that early versions of the Noemi will have between 6 and 13 seats and will reach around 200 kilometers at speeds of up to 250 knots, with a pair of electric motors with output of one megawatt.

The company plans to fly the prototype in 2025 and to certify the aircraft under EASA’s CS23 Level 4 rules to give it scope to scale up the design to carry as many as 19 passengers. Elfly said that the aircraft will be ready to enter commercial service in 2030 with a cargo version ready by 2028.

There will be three cabin options for passenger-carrying versions of the Noemi, ranging from a six-seat VIP model to nine- and 13-seaters that could be used respectively for business flights or short tourist sightseeing trips. A large door will be available for use by passengers in wheelchairs or for loading freight.

Elfly has recruited engineers from companies such as eVTOL aircraft developer Lilium and Germany’s Dornier, th veteran seaplane manufacturer.

Elfly is no stranger to electric aviation. The company has been designing, producing and test flying the electric racer airplane to participate in the Air Race E electric air race event. CTO of the company Tomas Brødreskift established Equator Aircraft in 2010 and developed and test flew the P2 Xcursion electric amphibian airplane later on.

For more information: https://el-fly.no