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.
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.
AFT 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.
In September 2021, AFT announced it had raised €10 million for support of its Atea eVTOL design. Ascendance also stated it will need further funding to achieve its goal of certification by 2025 and set a goal of 2024 to have a flying prototype.
In December 2021, AFT revealed a significant revision to its Atea eVTOL design with plans to have it certified by 2025. Ascendance expects the design to have a range of 250 miles and speeds of 124mph.
In late July 2022, the company gained 6 commercial agreements from operators who are committed to adding Atea eVTOL to their fleet. The operators are spread across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
In late March 2023, AFT announced it raised €21 million ($23 million) in funding, mainly from venture capital sources. The latest funding round was backed by French Tech Souveraineté, operated by Bpifrance as part of the France 2030 plan, CELAD, Expansion Aerospace Ventures, SC Mahé, Adrien Montfort via Snaw Ventures, and ARIS Occitanie. Earlier backers also contributed further capital, including Habert Dassault Finance, Céleste Management, IRDI, and M-Capital.