Dufour Aerospace this week signed an agreement to allow AirMobility to promote and distribute its Aero 3 eVTOL aircraft in Japan. The Tokyo-based company has an option to purchase an unspecified number of the vehicle, but the partners provided no further details on the terms of the agreement.
According to the “Public-Private Council for the Air Mobility Revolution” established by the Japanese government’s ministries of economy, trade, and industry, and land, infrastructure, transport, and tourism, the country aims to see initial eVTOL aircraft operations in 2023. Authorities also have set a more specific goal of establishing air taxi services for the 2025 Osaka Expo event.
“We know that Japan has high expectations and ambitious plans when it comes to eVTOL [aircraft], and with our versatile and efficient concept and our development philosophy, we can fulfill these expectations,” said Dufour Aerospace co-founder and CEO Thomas Pfammatter.
AirMobility was established in August 2019 as a “sales and services platform” for eVTOL aircraft. The company intends to be involved in preparing infrastructure to support operations and also has an agreement with Japanese industrial drone manufacturer Terra Drones.
Switzerland-based Dufour Aerospace was founded in 2017 and has been working on several concepts for a hybrid-electric tilt-wing eVTOL design. Pfammatter co-founded the company with Jasmine Kent and Dominique Steffen, and its team includes experienced engineers from Airbus, Boeing, Google, and the Solar Impulse project.
The company is developing a prototype for a five- to seven-seat model called the Aero 3 that it says will be suitable for a variety of passenger transportation and emergency medical applications with a potential range of up to 1,000 km (625 miles). In April it secured an unspecified amount of fresh funding from venture capital group Investor Session.
“When choosing Dufour Aerospace, we carefully considered several factors, such as the maturity of the management team, certification pathway, technology readiness, corporate philosophy, and product feasibility,” said AirMobility president and CEO Hisashi Asai. “As a result, Dufour Aerospace’s eVTOL is extremely attractive compared with other companies.”