The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Japanese Engineering Group Taiho Orders SkyDrive's SD-05 eVTOL Aircraft

Japanese engineering group Taiho this week placed a preorder for one of SkyDrive’s SD-05 two-seat eVTOL aircraft. The memorandum of understanding, reported on April 18, constitutes the second provisional sales commitment from a commercial customer to be publicly confirmed by the manufacturer, which last week said it has started accepting preorders from private individuals as well.

The first prospective private buyer for the vehicle is Kotaro Chiba, co-founder and managing partner of the venture capital group Drone Fund, who was one of SkyDrive’s first investors in November 2018. In September 2022, Vietnamese renewable energy company Pacific Group said it would buy up to 100 aircraft. SkyDrive has declined to reveal pricing for the SD-05 or confirm whether or not the preorders are backed by any sort of down payment.

Taiho is a member of the Public-Private Council for Advanced Air Mobility, which was launched last month in the Kagawa prefecture of Japan’s Shikoku region. The body is intended to address the region’s transportation challenges, including urban traffic congestion and accessibility problems facing communities on islands and in mountainous areas.

The company sells and maintains control of measurement equipment used in industries such as electric and nuclear power, chemicals, oil refining, and paper manufacturing. Recently, it has started engaging in new fields such as robotics, including automated driving and monitoring robots for the livestock industry. SkyDrive said it will collaborate with its new customer to support preparations for eVTOL operations in Japan, including the development of vertiports and power-supply infrastructure.

SkyDrive completed its first flight with an earlier technology demonstrator aircraft back in 2019 and says it has now started the type certification process for the SD-05 with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau. The vehicle is intended to operate over distances of just 10 kilometers (six miles) at a maximum speed of 100 km/hour.

Series C Funding Round Increases Capital Pot

Last week, SkyDrive also reported that it has raised further capital via its Series C funding round with undisclosed investments from Japan's MUFG Bank and a target fund including electronic components group Murata Manufacturing. The company said that the total raised through the Series C campaign now exceeds 10 billion yen ($75.1 million), representing an increase of just over $3 million since the company's funding announcement in September 2022, when the total raised stood at 9.6 billion yen. The company says that since it launched in 2018 it has raised more than 15 billion yen ($112.6 million).