The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Lilium Appoints ArcosJet as Authorized eVTOL Aircraft Dealer in Middle East

Dubai, UAE-based aircraft broker ArcosJet has become the first authorized dealer for the Lilium Jet eVTOL aircraft in the Middle East. Lilium announced the appointment of its fifth international dealership on October 31, assigning its exclusivity for sales to private owners in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Cyprus. 

ArcosJet is paying an undisclosed “commitment fee" to Lilium but has yet to say how many of the four- to six-passenger Lilium Jets it plans to order. It joins a dealership network including the recently appointed EMC Jet in Texas, Volare Aviation in the UK, Air Dynamic in Switzerland, and ASL Group in the Benelux countries.

At the Dubai Airshow later this month, Lilium and ArcosJet will jointly display a mockup of the Pioneer Edition of the Lilium Jet, which is intended for the business aviation market. They also plan to announce further details about their partnership at that event.

Vertical Aerospace Expands eVTOL Aircraft Partnership with Hanwha Aerospace

South Korea’s Hanwha Aerospace is to design, test, and manufacture a tilt and blade pitch control system for Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 eVTOL aircraft. During last week’s ADEX 2023 Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition, the two companies signed an agreement that expands their existing collaboration to develop the four-seater’s electromechanical actuation system. This means Hanwha is now handling the development of the VX4’s complete actuation system. 

UK-based Vertical is now building a second full-scale prototype of the VX4 that it aims to start flight testing in early 2024 as it works towards type certification by the end of 2026. Seoul-based Hanwha is already an investor and partner in U.S. eVTOL aircraft developer Overair. 

Universal Hydrogen Works on Hydrogen-powered Ground Support Equipment

Universal Hydrogen is teaming with JBT AeroTech to support greater use of electric airport ground support equipment. The partners are jointly developing the H2AmpCart, which is a fuel cell-powered mobile battery charger that builds on the technology Universal Hydrogen is developing to convert regional airliners such as the ATR72 twin turboprop to hydrogen-electric propulsion systems.

Acknowledging the increased pressure to decarbonize air transport, Universal and JBT AeroTech aim to have the first demonstrator unit ready by the end of 2023, using the existing Ballard FCmove-HD+. They intend to have a production version of the H2AmpCart ready to enter service at airports worldwide by the end of 2024.

This week, Universal Hydrogen conducted a demonstration of the recharging process at Toulouse Blagnac Airport in France, where the California-based group has a technology center. The company showed how liquid hydrogen modules for an ATR72 regional airliner would be loaded and unloaded at the airport’s gate F50, as well as how the H2AmpCart would be used on the ramp.

Universal Hydrogen demonstrates liquid hydrogen capsule loading
Universal Hydrogen demonstrates liquid hydrogen capsule loading at Toulouse Blagnac Airport. (Image: Universal Hydrogen)

Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Innovation Electric Aircraft Now a Museum Exhibit

The latest addition to the exhibits at London’s Science Museum is the Spirit of Innovation electric aircraft that Rolls-Royce developed to set a world speed record in 2021. The aircraft is suspended from the roof of the museum as if in flight to highlight progress toward decarbonizing aviation. Several other innovative aircraft are also part of the exhibit, which is called Making of the Modern World.

The aircraft holds the world record for the fastest all-electric aircraft, having achieved an average speed over a three-kilometer course of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph). Powered by a 400-kilowatt powertrain jointly developed with Electroflight (now part of Evolito), Yasa, and the Aerospace Technology Institute, the single-seater beat the previous speed record by more than 200 km/h.

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation aircraft
Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Innovation electric aircraft is now an exhibit in London's Science Museum. (Image: Rolls-Royce)

China’s EHang Opens European Urban Air Mobility Center in Spain

EHang this week inaugurated its first European Urban Air Mobility Center at the Lleida-Alguaire International Airport in Spain’s Catalonia region. The Chinese company has deployed an example of its EH216-S two-seat autonomous eVTOL aircraft at the site to conduct flight testing and demonstrations. It is working toward achieving EASA type certification, having last month become the first eVTOL developer in the world to secure this approval from the Civil Aviation Adminstration of China.

“The establishment of EHang’s European UAM Center marks an important step forward in the company’s international development,” said founder, chairman, and CEO Huazhi Hu during an event at the airport on November 1. “Through this world-class UAM center, EHang expects to manifest a strong commitment with the development and deployment of UAM in Europe. Ehang aims to share our certified and validated technology and operational experience with our partners around the world in the future to make our shared vision for benefiting all of society with safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly UAM solutions.”

EHang's new European UAM center in Spain
EHang has opened its European urban air mobility center in Spain, where it has an EH216-S eVTOL aircraft available for flight demonstrations. (Image: EHang)