The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Maeve Taps Siemens Software To Develop 44-Seat Electric Airplane

Maeve Aerospace, a Dutch start-up with ambitious plans to introduce a fully electric regional commuter airplane, has teamed up with Siemens Digital Industries Software to streamline the development of its 44-passenger Maeve 01 aircraft

Maeve says it is using the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio of software and services to create a digital twin that it is using to design and simulate the aircraft. With the help of Siemens Xcelerator, Maeve says, it has been able “to significantly reduce the overall weight of the aircraft, which results in a snowball effect of improving aircraft structures, propulsion capacity, and battery capacity.”

The company says its Maeve 01 commuter airplane will have a range of at least 250 nm while offering 30 percent lower operating costs than existing turboprop aircraft. 

Composites Specialist Solvay Joins Ascendance’s eVTOL Aircraft Program

Solvay has signed up as a strategic partner for the Atea eVTOL aircraft being developed by French start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies. Under an agreement signed during the recent Paris Air Show, the composite materials and structural adhesives specialist is joining a wider alliance that includes Airborne, which is providing expertise in composites manufacturing and digital automation systems. Ascendance also announced the selection of Evolito as the battery supplier for its four-seat aircraft.

Ascendance Flight Technologies' Atea eVTOL aircraft.
Solvay will provide composite materials for Ascendance Flight Technologies' Atea eVTOL aircraft. (Image: Ascendance)

The collaboration with Ascendance closely followed another new partnership for Solvay with Spirit AeroSystems’s Aerospace Innovation Center in Scotland. The companies said they will work together to explore approaches to applying composite materials to improve the performance and efficiency of future aircraft.

Michigan Backs MightyFly’s Plans for Autonomous eVTOL Cargo Deliveries

The state of Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification has awarded MightyFly a $150,000 grant to support planned public demonstration flights of its Cento autonomous eVTOL cargo aircraft in 2024. According to the California-based start-up, the planned demonstrations at an as-yet-unconfirmed location in Michigan will demonstrate the ability of its third-generation vehicle to carry 100 pounds of freight in a cargo bay with dimensions of 6 feet by 19 inches by 18 inches that can accommodate up to 212 small U.S. Postal Service packages.

Michigan’s OFME is pursuing options to improve mobility across the state. It views the adoption of electric vehicles as a priority and is eager to support more efficient logistics infrastructure to aid its manufacturing, automotive, retail, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.

MightyFly's Cento autonomous cargo drone.
MightyFly's Cento autonomous cargo drone is to take part in freight delivery exercises in Michigan. (Image: MightyFly)

MightyFly is also planning for further proof-of-concept trials with the Cento with other partners during 2024 and 2025. “We are excited to be the first large, autonomous, fixed-wing eVTOL cargo delivery company to demonstrate how autonomous aerial expedited logistics solutions will better service Michiganders,” said MightyFly CEO Manal Habib. “This demonstration will be the first stepping stone for the efficient flow of goods across the world, making it possible for everyone to access reliable and affordable same-day deliveries.”

French Partners Start Test Flights with Hydrogen-powered Rapace Drone

France’s hydrogen-powered Rapace uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) recently took to the air for the first time. It was the first flight of a drone with a closed cathode and liquid-cooled fuel cell outside of the U.S.

The Rapace H2 project is a collaboration between the instructors/researchers of the air school research center (CREA), part of the military l’Ecole de l’Air et de l’Espace (EAE, air and space school) at Salon-de-Provence and CEA-LITEN, the innovation laboratory for energy technologies/new and nanomaterials of the French atomic energy agency.

France's Rapace uncrewed air vehicle has flown with hydrogen propulsion.
France's Rapace uncrewed air vehicle has flown with hydrogen propulsion.

CEA-LITEN has been studying aspects of hydrogen fuel for two decades, including hydrogen production, storage, and transport. It developed the fuel cell technology for the Rapace program. The CREA is studying the application of hydrogen power to military activities.

Drone specialist Atechsys was selected to provide the UAV and its ground control station. The company is based at Pourrières in the Var department, where the first flight was undertaken. Support for the flight test was provided by operators from CIFED (initiation and training center for drones), also part of the EAE.

Europe and Brazil Work Together on eVTOL Aircraft Type Certification

EASA and Brazilian aviation safety regulator ANAC have agreed to work together on the type certification of eVTOL aircraft. Under a letter of intent signed in June, the agencies are extending their bilateral safety agreement to take account of the technology being developed by companies in the European Union and Brazil.

Under the agreement, EASA and ANAC intend to pursue the development of common technical standards with a view to issuing concurrent validation of new aircraft. The agreement potentially benefits eVTOL developers such as Brazil-based Eve Air Mobility and European start-ups such as Volocopter, Lilium, and Ascendance Flight Technologies.

In October 2022, EASA signed a similar agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Also last year, the UK Civil Aviation Authority agreed to accept EASA’s Special Condition VTOL standards as the basis for certifying eVTOL aircraft.