South Korea's Aerospace9 group and U.S. electric aircraft pioneer Bye Aerospace have signed a strategic partnership that includes an undisclosed investment by the Seoul-based company and a purchase agreement covering 300 aircraft, nearly doubling Bye's order book in the process. Aerospace9 has agreed to acquire 150 of Bye's two-seat eFlyer2s, plus 148 of the four-seat eFlyer4s, as well as a couple of a new larger model called the Envoy. It also holds options for a further 100 unspecified aircraft.
Bye has said very little about the Envoy, apart from that it will be powered by two electric motors and will seat up to nine people. In a statement on November 2, the Colorado-based company said that it intends to make a further announcement about the Envoy soon.
"We are finishing agreements with several key tier one suppliers and initial customers, but expect a public announcement to launch Envoy before year-end," Bye Aerospace CEO George Bye told FutureFlight.
The role that Aerospace9 will play in Bye's future is very unclear and the new company was recently founded by information technology entrepreneur Seunghyuk Cha. The company, which claims to be "building a team of highly experienced aerospace veterans," has not said what it intends to do with the 300 aircraft it now has on order. According to Bye's statement, "Aerospace9 will challenge the new-generation aviation industry based on information technology as it develops and sells various industry products to Asian markets."
Bye is in the process of obtaining FAA certification for both the eFlyer aircraft, which are intended for a variety of roles including flight training, air taxi service, and personal use. The company now holds commitments for a total of 711 aircraft, with other prospective customers including Quantum XYZ, FlexAir, OSM Aviation Academy and Skyborne Airline Academy.
Flight testing and engineering work for the eFlyer program has been somewhat disrupted by Covid-19 complications. Bye now estimates that the process will be complete with FAA by the end of 2022.
As part of its claimed value proposition, Bye says its aircraft will deliver offer five-fold savings in terms of operating costs, no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and significantly decreased noise. The company noted that the eFlyer family has the potential to eliminate millions of metric tons of CO2 emissions generated each year by flight training operations alone.
“This investment is not just a purchase contract, it is a very meaningful contract that creates an amazing opportunity for Asia,” explained Aerospace9 chairman Seunghyuk Cha. “Our company has a very important responsibility in the aviation industry as a new strategic partner of Bye Aerospace.”