The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Atea is a four-seat hybrid electric eVTOL aircraft being developed by France's Ascendance Flight Technologies (AFT). The company was launched in January 2018 by four former members of the Airbus E-Fan electric aircraft program.

The startup has flown a subscale prototype of the Atea and during 2021 expects to start testing a full-scale example. In January 2021, it was selected as one of 30 partners to participate in the Re.Invent Air Mobility project launched by the Choose Paris Region agency, which is aiming to launch air taxi services in the French capital from 2024. The aim is to conduct public demonstration flights in 2024 as part of the Paris Olympic Games and then to be ready to begin commercial operations in 2025. In addition to passenger transportation, AFT sees the Atea being used for missions such as emergency medical support and surveillance.

Images on the company's website show a pair of ducted fans situated on either side of a fixed-wing for horizontal lift, plus another ducted fan in the forward fuselage and a single propeller in the nose. No projected performance details or specifications have been published. 

Ascendance Flight Technologies lists among its supporters the following organizations: Aeroports de Paris, Onera (the French government-backed aerospace research agency), Nubbo, Plug and Play, the Isae-Supaero aeronautical university, Agoranov, i-Lab, Ansys, ADDL, Creations Digitales and La French Tech. It is unclear how much financial backing the company has but it was looking to recruit new staff for its engineering team in early 2021.

Timeline

The company is one of 30 partners in the Re.Invent Air Mobility challenge, which is working to launch air taxi services in the Paris area.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Ascendance Flight Technologies was boosted by being chosen from 150 applicants to be a partner in the Re.Invent Air Mobility project to bring air taxi services to Paris by 2024. It is one of six eVTOL aircraft developers selected. 

The company's initial financial backing, which is understood to be less than $5 million, is probably sufficient to support early-stage development for what appears to be a lean, young energetic team. However, the response to its planned Series A funding round will clearly be critical to its ability to bring the Atea aircraft into commercial service, starting with construction of a full-scale prototype. Selection as a partner for the Re.Invent Air Mobility program is a boost to AFI's credibility, as is the signing of two strategic partnerships with ONERA (the French equivalent to NASA).

Atea Models

Atea Specifications

local vtol Lift + Cruise

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    4
  • Range
    280 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    124 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    ducted fan
  • Power Source
    hybrid_fe
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    n/a
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    n/a
  • MGTOW
    n/a
  • Payload Weight
    992 lb

Dimensions

  • Length
    n/a
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    n/a
  • Wingspan
    n/a

Atea is a hybrid electric eVTOL aircraft being developed to carry a pilot and three passengers (with an aspiration for autonomous operations from 2030). It is intended for air taxi roles, as well as emergency medical and surveillance applications., with a range of up to around 280 miles. For the most part, it is envisaged that it will operate in a radius of up to 125 miles around cities. Ascendance Flight Technologies is pitching the aircraft as a direct alternative to helicopters, saying that it will cost one-third of the acquisition price, offer a 40 percent reduction in operating costs, and generate a quarter of the noise footprint at takeoff.

The fixed-wing design features a ducted fan in either side of the main wing and a third fan in the front fuselage in front of the cockpit. A single-propeller in the nose drives horizontal cruise. The aircraft features a three-wheel landing gear. According to ATI, it is aiming to deliver a 10 minute turnaround time on the ground between flights.

Key Personnel

Jean-Christophe Lambert
Jean-Christophe Lambert

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Thibault Baldivia
Thibault Baldivia

Chief operating officer

Benoit Ferran
Benoit Ferran

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Clement Dinel
Clement Dinel

Senior Manager