Lilium Went IPO at NASDAQ

On September 15 the German eVTOL startup Lilium went initial public offering (IPO) at NASDAQ. It was the third eVTOL company going IPO after Ehang in December 2019 and Joby in August this year, and was the second eVTOL company going IPO through the fast-track SPAC approach.

Lilium obtained $584 million in cash through IPO, an amount much less than the $830 million projection when it announced the IPO plan in March mainly because 65% of the SPAC company’s shareholders chose to redempt their stock and not participate in the IPO transaction. Lilium was valued at $3.3 billion in this IPO.

Chinese eVTOL startup Volant revealed fundraising details

The Chinese eVTOL startup Volant Aerotech today revealed the investors of their first round of fundraising in amount of “millions USD”: Shunwei Capital founded by Xiaomi’s founder Mr.Lei Jun in 2011 managing total of near 3 billions USD and 2 billions RMB assets, and Ventech China, a French VC managing more than 400 millions Euro.

Volant Aerotech was founded in Shanghai in 2021 by a group of aviation veterans from COMAC (the Chinese equivalent of Boeing and Airbus) as well as the Chinese subsidiaries of Airbus, GE, Honeywell and Collins. The company revealed very little about their eVTOL design except an obscure image of the design concept. The company intend to test fly a sub-scale prototype by the end of this year.

a rendering image of Volant’s eVTOL design concept

Chinese eVTOL startup TCab Tech revealed fundraising details and design concept

The Chinese eVTOL startup TCab Tech (时的科技)revealed their fundraising situation and their five-seat eVTOL design E20.

TCab Tech was founded in Shanghai in May 2021 with a group of veterans with the background of both conventional aviation industry and eVTOL.

TCab metaphors ‘time cab’, named with the mission to offer affordable and time-efficient means of transportation to the general public, and above all, having everyone enjoys the moment of flight.

The founder and CEO of the company, Yon Wui NG, was previously Vice General Manager of Geely Terrafugia responsible for the eVTOL aircraft named TF-2A. Before Geely Terrafugia, Yon spent 10 years with Airbus China Engineering Center whereby one of his positions was Head of Engineering for the engineering center.

TCab Tech securied close to 10 millions USD within one month from their Seed and Seed+ fundraising. The Seed investment comes from BlueRun Ventures, whereas the Seed+ investment comes from Decent Capital. BlueRun Ventures is a pronounced venture capital which has supported more than 150 startups since its China-based establishment in 2005. Decent Capital was founded by Tencent co-founder Jason Zeng, it is a leading venture capital focusing on advanced technology, industrialized innovation, and web-based investments.

According to the press, the eVTOL aircraft is designed to compliance with EASA and CAAC airworthiness requirements amid EASA has published SC-VTOL while the team is exploring certification basis for passenger-carrying eVTOL with CAAC.

E20 has a tilt-rotor configuration. Noticing from the photos released, it has fixed landing gear, two wing leading-edge extended struts for accommodating its stowable two-bladed lift rotors, and a pair of distinctive dorsa-fins on its rear tilt-nacelles.

The company says in the press release that in comparison of multicopter and compound wing (seperate rotors for lift and cruise) configuration,tilt-rotor can achieve more effective cruise flight and thus longer range which is very important for eVTOL constrained with current battery technology.

E20 has seagull high wing to raise the position of the wings so that passengers can have ingress and egressget of the cabin more safely and conveniently. The airframe will be built with carbon fiber composite materials to achieve lightweight with high structural strength. E20 will embed no single point of failure in the flight control design.

E20 will have a maximum payload of 450kg, five seats (one for the pilot, four for passengers), 200kg range and 260km/h cruising speed.

According to the press, the eVTOL aircraft is designed to compliance with EASA and CAAC airworthiness requirements amid EASA has published SC-VTOL while the team is exploring certification basis for passenger-carrying eVTOL with CAAC. The media release also indicates that the E20 has a wingspan equivalent to the diameter of a small helicopter’s rotor, permitting the eVTOL aircraft to make use of the smallest helipad infrastructures on the existing highrises.

While there are overwhelming European and American air taxi startups, there have been rather limited Chinese counterparts. Majority of Chinese companies focus on drone rather than air taxi application. With TCab Tech breaking the ice with their fundraising, we expect to see more Chinese advanced air mobility startups to unveil soon. Stay tuned.

UAV converted from the Chinese RX1E electric airplane took off

An UAV conversion of the Chinese RX1E electric light sports airplane made the first flight last week. It replaces the 50kw electric motor on the nose of the original RX1E with two electric ducted fans. The manufacturer of RX1E, LGAA, says in a press release that with 28kwh battery the UAV conversion can fly for over 1 hour.

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UAV conversion of RX1E electric LSA. Photo courtesy: LGAA

LGAA obtained the LSA type certificate for RX1E from CAAC, China’s civil aviation regulator, in 2015 and obtained the LSA type certificate for an upgraded model RX1E-A in 2018.

RX1E-A electric LSA. Photo courtesy: LGAA

Joby Aviation Went IPO at NYSE

After 12 years of developing the eVTOL technology on August 11 Joby Aviation became the first eVTOL and the electric aviation company listed on NYSE (symbol: JOBY), the first U.S.-based eVTOL company to go public, the first electric aviation company listed through SPAC after the merger with the special purpose acquisition company Reinvent Technology Partners. , and the overall 2nd eVTOL company listed on the exchange market in the US after Ehang which listed on NASDAQ in December 2019.

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Joby team took a group photo outside of NYSE. The S4 eVTOL is behind. Photo courtesy: Joby Aviation

Now with over 1.6 billions USD on the balance sheet after the IPO Joby is well funded for the ongoing type certification and serial production of the S4 five-seat eVTOL. Joby displayed a S4 prototype outside the NYSE building.

Joby Aviation was founded by Joeben Bevirt in 2009 and is a front runner of eVTOL certification with FAA.

JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, rang the opening bell for NYSE on August 11

Chinese eVTOL Startup Revealed 5-seat Design

The Chinese eVTOL startup TCab Tech revealed the design of E20 eVTOL. This is the first eVTOL design since the company was founded. TCab Tech stated that the eVTOL design aims at the airworthiness certification, and focuses on the passenger carrying use rather than logistics delivery.

The only image of the E20 eVTOL design released by TCab Tech

The design features of E20 include:

(1) Pure electric;

(2) tilt rotor with a total of 6 rotors 4 of which can be tilted for vertical takeoff and landing;

(3) A smart cockpit which can accommodate 1 pilot and 4 passengers.

TCab Tech was founded in Shanghai, China by several veterans in the traditional aviation and eVTOL fields. The founder and CEO Yon Huang presided over the eVTOL project of Terrafugia, a subsidiary of Geely Group. Before joining Terrafugia, he held managerial positions at Airbus in  China. Co-founder and CMO Jun Jiang served as senior vice president at Autoflight in Shanghai, and was deeply involved in the product management and market development of the unmanned cargo eVTOL and the planned passenger-carrying eVTOL developed by Autoflight.

We will update with more information about this project and other latest news of electric aviation in our “e Flight Journal” publication.

Autoflight V400 Cargo eVTOL Applied for CAAC certification

The Chinese civil aviation regulator CAAC accepted the application of Shanghai-headquartered Autoflight for the airworthiness certification of their V400 “Albatross” cargo eVTOL. The certification will be under large-category unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which is defined by CAAC to be over 25kg gross weight.

This is the 3rd eVTOL model applying for CAAC’s UAV certification. Interestingly the first two models Ehang 216 and Xpeng Huitian X2 are both designed and intended for passenger carrying operation.

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V400 is pure electric, has 400kg gross weight and 100kg payload capacity. Autoflight is founded by electric aviation veteran Tian Yu who has designed and produced several electric fixed wing airplanes including E430 two-seat ultralight which obtained flight permit from German ultralight regulation entity DULV.

Ehang revealed new VT-30 eVTOL

EHang Holdings Limited revealed its new eVTOL design “VT-30”, the first in EHang’s product suite that is designed for inter-city transportation. With a hybrid structure, VT-30 is designed to travel a distance of up to 300km with a designed flight time of up to 100 minutes and is designed for air mobility solutions for inter-city travel. As EHang’s long-range flagship product, VT-30 will complement EH216, a product focusing on intra-city air mobility, to further expand the air transportation network and improve the future urban air mobility (“UAM”) ecosystem.

So far, VT-30 has conducted vertical take-off and landing, power system and other tests. Moving forward, EHang will continue to conduct various tests and optimizations under different environment conditions, while continuously improving AAV safety and stability, with the goal of accelerating long-distance AAVs to be used in various scenarios such as air commuting, aerial sightseeing, and aerial logistics.

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Volocopter unveils four-seat eVTOL design

Volocopter today unveiled VoloConnect four-seat eVTOL design with lift surfaces which have been rumored for a while.  VoloConnect is designed to work as an extension of the two-seat VoloCity in multicopter configuration. VoloConnect is intended to connect the city and suburbs and for intra-city air mobility while the shorter-ranged VoloCity is mainly for inter-city air mobility use case.

VoloConnect has design goals of maximum speed 250km/h, cruising speed 180km/h, range 100km and up to 400kg payload.

for more information: https://www.volocopter.com/solutions/voloconnect/

Aerofugia and Wolong form partnership to explore electric aviation

On 21 April 2021 Aerofugia, the aerospace subsidiary wholly owned by Geely and the holder of Geely’s equity in Terrafugia and Volocopter, announced a partnership with Wolong Group, a major electric motor supplier in the global market. In the announcement the two recognize the fast development and the significance of electric aviation and will leverage their technical resources to jointly explore the opportunities in electric aviation. They plan to develop, produce and commercialize a cargo drone within three years.

Aerofugia was formally formed in Chengdu, China two years ago to consolidate the aerospace assets and projects of Geely including Terrafugia flying car and industrial UAV.

Wolong Group was founded in 1984  with over fifty first-level subsidiaries, more than 18.000 employees, total assets of 4.9 billion USD, and annual sales of 5.4billion USD in 2019.

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Aerofugia CTO Songbo Xue and the VP of Wolong Global Central Research Dongliang Liu signed the agreement in Chengdu, China where Aerofugia is headquartered.