The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

White House Picks Supernal Exec Mike Whitaker To Lead FAA

U.S. President Joe Biden announced last Thursday that he plans to nominate Mike Whitaker to serve as the FAA’s next administrator. Whitaker is currently the chief operating officer at Supernal, a Hyundai Motor Company developing an eVTOL air taxi. 

In his three and a half years with Supernal, Whitaker has also been chief commercial officer and global head of policy. He served as deputy FAA administrator under the Obama Administration from 2013 to 2016.

UK Offers Investment Readiness Program for AAM Start-ups

The government-backed UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency is inviting start-ups and small- to medium-sized enterprises in the advanced air mobility industry to join its Future Flight Investment Readiness Program, which aims to help companies “hone your pitch deck to investors, gain a better understanding of the aerospace and aviation funding landscape, prepare your investment materials, and feel confident reaching out to potential investors.”

The 10-week program, which is part of UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, will feature workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions with experts in aviation fundraising. To participate, eligible companies must submit an expression of interest to UKRI by Friday, September 15, at 5 p.m. UK time.  

Dufour Taps Volz Servos To Supply Actuators for Aero 2 Cargo Drone

Dufour Aerospace has selected German electromechanical actuator manufacturer Volz Servos to supply the actuators for its Aero 2 hybrid-electric, tilt-wing cargo drone, the company announced Monday. According to Dufour, the uncrewed aircraft will feature two types of Volz actuators: the DA 26-D and DA 15-T. 

The fully redundant DA 26-D is designed “for applications with highest reliability demands,” like steering surfaces and electric motors. The DA 15-T is a compact fly-by-wire actuator that will be installed on the throttle valve shaft of the aircraft’s Suter engine, which “eliminates the need for the rudder linkage and bowden cables, shortens the installation time, and minimizes the installation space and overall weight,” according to Volz. 

Dufour Aerospace's Aero2 eVTOL aircraft.
Dufour Aerospace has been flight-testing its Aero2 eVTOL aircraft. (Image: Dufour)

Saint-Gobain To Provide Windows and Windscreens for Lilium Jet

Aircraft transparencies manufacturer Saint-Gobain Aerospace will supply Lilium with windows and windscreens for its six-passenger eVTOL vehicle. The companies announced the partnership on September 7, confirming that the French firm will customize transparencies for the Lilium Jet.

According to Lilium, the aircraft’s large cabin windows will set it apart from other eVTOL models, enhancing passenger comfort for flights of up to around 155 miles. The windshields will meet all regulatory requirements, including resistance to bird strikes.

Lilium Jet eVTOL aircraft.
The Lilium Jet eVTOL vehicle features large cabin windows. (Image: Lilium)

Heart’s ES-30 Hybrid-Electric Airliner Will Use Honeywell Flight Controls

Heart Aerospace has selected Honeywell to provide a fly-by-wire flight control system for its ES-30 hybrid-electric aircraft. On September 11, the Swedish start-up announced that the U.S. aerospace group is participating in the joint definition phase of the project, which aims to develop a 30-seat regional airliner capable of flying up to 800 kilometers, depending on whether it operates purely on electric power or extends range by engaging a turbogenerator.

Honeywell has been developing its next-generation fly-by-wire system for some time and the technology has already been selected by other aircraft developers in the advanced air mobility sector. Heart says it has 250 orders for the ES-30, plus options and purchase rights for another 120 aircraft.

Heart Aerospace's ES-30 hybrid-electric airliner.
Heart Aerospace's ES-30 hybrid-electric regional airliner will use Honeywell's new fly-by-wire flight control system. (Image: Heart)

Volatus Backs Leo Flight’s Wireless Charging Technology

Volatus Infrastructure & Energy Solutions is to work with Leo Flight to manufacture its VertiStop wireless charging systems. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding covering the joint undertaking on September 7.

Leo Flight is developing an electric flying car that it intends to market to private owners. As part of plans to support users of the Leo Coupe, it intends to develop a network of charging stations.

BAE Systems Supports Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Airlander Program

The FalconWorks advanced research and technology unit of BAE Systems is to help Hybrid Air Vehicles develop its Airlander airship. The UK start-up says that its initial Airlander 10 model could be used for logistics missions for military operators, offering a 10-metric-ton payload. Planned larger Airlander 50 and 100 models are also aimed at commercial applications that could include luxury travel and regional air services, as well as cargo flights.

In defense applications, the hybrid-electric airships could be deployed for surveillance missions, operating for up to five days at a time.

Hybrid Air Vehicles' Airlander airship.
Hybrid Air Vehicles' Airlander airships could have military and civilian applications. (Image: HAV)