Jaunt Air Mobility on Tuesday announced an alliance with engineering services group L&T Technology Services (LTTS) to work on the development of the all-electric, five-seat Journey eVTOL aircraft that Jaunt aims to bring into commercial service by 2026. The India-based company, which says it has more than a decade's experience working on aerospace and defense programs, will support the Jaunt team in establishing design and production facilities in the Montreal area.
Texas-based Jaunt has a Canadian subsidiary and will now ramp up the recruitment of more engineers and other specialists and look to work with the Canadian government. At the same time, it is in the process of completing a merger with the Airo Group that was announced in October 2021.
"At Jaunt, our vision is to usher in a range of new-age aircraft-driven urban commuting [options that are] fast, safe, and convenient," said CEO Martin Peryea. "This new, clean, sustainable aircraft will reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Strategically, we are continuing to expand our Tier 1 partnerships and recognize LTTS as a best-fit engineering partner, and together we are confident of pushing the mass-scale commercialization."
In February 2021, Airbus selected LTTS to provide technical and digital engineering solutions for its Skywise platform, which supports airlines worldwide. LTTS has over 16,000 employees spread across 17 design centers and innovation labs, including a facility in Toronto.
"This partnership marks an important step for team LTTS, given the tremendous opportunities opening up in advanced air mobility and drone services, which are emerging as alternatives to the increasingly congested on-ground mobility in cities," commented LTTS CEO and managing director Amit Chadha. "We believe this program will set the benchmark for future AAM projects, and our team is excited to build on this important engagement with Jaunt, with the eventual aim to make urban commuting safer, greener, efficient, and reliable."
BAE Systems is already closely involved in the project, with its input mainly focused on the battery and power management system, which Jaunt said is exceeding projected performance specifications. Other partners include aerostructures group Triumph and flight training organization CAE.
Jaunt anticipates the Journey being used for applications such as air-taxi services, freight deliveries, and emergency medical support. In tandem, the company is working under contract from the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program to meet its need for a high-speed VTOL (HSVTOL) vehicle.
The Jaunt eVTOL is based on the company’s patented slowed-rotor-compound technology, which slows the rotor tip speed to reduce drag and vibration. According to the company, that capability combined with a small wing sized for cruise flight produces a lift-to-drag ratio equivalent to that of a fixed-wing aircraft.
Jaunt intends to certify the aircraft under the FAA Part 29 rules for commercially operated rotorcraft. It is aiming to start flight testing a full-scale prototype by the end of next year and sees the Journey model being used for trips of up to around 70 miles, which it will be able to fly in 25 minutes or less.
The process of partnering with Airo Group—which already has a portfolio of AAM interests that also include drone manufacturing and operations, avionics, and robotics—has been time-consuming, but the Jaunt team anticipates accelerating work on its eVTOLs. “We expect to be able to design the production aircraft coming out of the gate and we’ll be working on a full-scale pre-production aircraft from day one for type certification,” Peryea explained.
Airo Group already has an established revenue and customer base from the existing drone activities of subsidiaries, including Airo Drone, Agile Defense, Coastal Defense, Aironet, Sky-Watch, and Airgility. The group also includes avionics manufacturer Aspen, which will provide flight displays for the Jaunt aircraft, and UK-based VRCO, which plans to start flight-testing its four-seat XP4 eVTOL prototype this year.
Unlike several other leading eVTOL developers, Jaunt does not intend to operate its aircraft. Its business model will be based on selling vehicles to established operators while providing full customer and product support. This is one reason it is seeking a close relationship with the helicopter industry.
In January, Brazilian on-demand charter flight broker Flapper committed to including 25 Journeys in its network. Under a letter of intent, Flapper and Jaunt said they will work together to provide services in Latin American cities, among them Rio de Janeiro; Sao Paulo; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile; and Bogota, Colombia. Currently, Flapper brokers flights in business aircraft, including helicopters, with these being operated by a network of partners.
According to Eric Cote, president of Jaunt Air Mobility Canada, both the Canadian government and provincial officials in Quebec take a very positive view of eVTOLs. The former Bombardier executive said this sector is set to benefit from new funds being released to support the introduction of reduced-carbon transportation options.
On March 7, Jaunt announced the appointment of Yves Comeau as its vice president of finance. Like Cote, he is a former Bombardier Aerospace executive.