The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Moya Aero Selected for Techstars Start-up Seed Stage Accelerator

Moya Aero is participating in the Techstars Los Angeles Accelerator program for seed-stage start-ups seeking early funding. The Brazilian company is developing an autonomous eVTOL aircraft intended for roles such as crop spraying and cargo deliveries. It is now preparing to start test flights with a 70 percent scale prototype of the vehicle, which is expected to have a payload of 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and a range of 110 kilometers (70 miles).

The Techstars program in Los Angeles is one of 50 run worldwide with support from investment bank JP Morgan. The 12 start-ups selected will present their business plans to prospective investors and mentors in the first week of December.

EHang Invests in Chinese Battery Group Shenzhen Inx Technology

Chinese eVTOL aircraft developer EHang is investing in Shenzhen Inx Technology with a view to supporting the development of solid-state lithium metal batteries for its autonomous vehicles. On September 20, EHang announced that it is part of a pre-Series A funding round led by GL Ventures, but it did not disclose how much new capital will go to Shenzhen Inx.

The solid-state battery specialist uses graphite as the negative electrode and solid-state electrolyte in place of liquid electrolyte separators. It says this approach will deliver superior energy density while also being safer. 

EHang has reported recently that it is close to completing type certification for its two-seat EH216 eVTOL aircraft with the Civil Aviation Administration of China. This vehicle will have a range of just 35 kilometers (22 miles) so the manufacturer may be exploring ways to make more electrical power available and extend the operating margins.

Safran and Cuberg Collaborate on Electric Batteries for Aircraft

Cuberg, a subsidiary of battery group Northvolt, is joining forces with Safran Electrical & Power to develop an energy storage system for future all-electric and hybrid electric aircraft. The French aerospace group aims to integrate planned new propulsion systems with Cuborg’s 20-ampere-hour lithium metal battery cells. According to Cuborg, it has internally validated its energy storage modules to have a specific energy rating of 280 Wh/kg and an energy density of 320 Wh/L, which it maintains is 40 percent higher than rival systems offer.

Safran is working with eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft developers including Auro Aero, Volocopter, and Electra. At the Paris Air Show in June, the company unveiled plans for a 600-kilowatt turbogenerator hybrid-electric propulsion system.

Safran tests a new turbogenerator for hybrid-electric aircraft.
Safran recently started ground tests with a turbogenerator for hybrid-electric aircraft. (Image: Safran)

Ryse Aero Releases Video Showing Amphibious Flight Test of Ultralight eVTOL

Ryse Aero Technologies has been conducting amphibious flight trials with its Recon ultralight eVTOL aircraft. The Ohio-based company released video footage this week showing a crewed prototype taking off and landing from a lake. 

According to Ryse, it will be ready to start delivering the first Recon units to customers in December 2023, having announced almost 100 “order requests” for the $150,000 aircraft. The Recon does not have to secure FAA type certification as Ryse says it will be covered by the air safety regulator's Part 103 rules, which will also mean that operators won’t have to hold a pilot’s license. Early use cases are expected to include agricultural tasks such as managing cattle or large tracts of land, including vineyards.

Uncrewed Aircraft Test Facility Begins Operating in Estonia

The Estonian government and uncrewed air traffic management specialist Anra Technologies has opened a drone testing facility in the Baltic country. Last week, the U.S.-based company and the Estonian Transport Administration tested the performance of new systems installed to develop so-called U-Space operations and conducted some initial drone test flights. The facility has also involved the cooperation of the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency and the Tartu Science Park Foundation. 

Anra Technologies is handling U-Space traffic and management services for the new “sandbox” center, while the Estonian Aviation Academy is operating the uncrewed aircraft being tested. Initial testing of the facility, which is in the city of Tarku, is due to be complete by the end of September. The work conducted there will contribute to wider efforts to deploy uncrewed air traffic services under the European Commission’s implementing regulation 664/2021.

Anra Technologies is supporting an uncrewed air traffic management center in Estonia.
Anra Technologies is supporting an uncrewed air traffic management test center in Estonia. (Image: Anra Technologies)