Cosmic Aerospace has raised $4.5 million for the development of a long-range, all-electric regional airplane that could enter service by the end of this decade, the Belgian-American start-up announced on Tuesday. The company is developing a 24-passenger airplane called Skylark that it says will deliver a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (more than 600 miles) on a single charge.
This ambitious goal equates to more than twice the projected range of Eviation's planned all-electric nine-passenger Alice commuter plane. It also surpasses some hybrid-electric airliners currently under development.
While other electric aircraft developers anticipate that future breakthroughs in battery technology will enable the range and payload needed for regional air mobility, Cosmic isn’t banking on battery advancements to achieve its targeted performance. Rather, the company is focusing on improving efficiency through the airframe and propulsion system. By embedding a propulsion system into the wing of a lightweight and highly aerodynamic structure, Cosmic believes it can deliver unparalleled range using batteries that are commercially available today.
Cosmic Aerospace, which has headquarters in Denver, has been testing a full-scale prototype of its electric jet engine since 2022 in a hangar facility at Limburg Regional Airport in Belgium. During those tests, the company said that its proprietary EP-1 engine prototype demonstrated a thrust-to-weight ratio comparable to that of modern combustion jet engines.
Now the Cosmic team is focusing on developing the wing, which it said is a key enabler for the aircraft’s unmatched efficiency. The Skylark’s design features an unusually long wingspan with multiple electric engines embedded inside the wing. It is somewhat reminiscent of the way Lilium is integrating 30 ducted electric engines in the wing and canard of its six-passenger eVTOL aircraft.
Digital renderings released by Cosmic show what appears to be a total of 32 small engines distributed across the wing, with 16 on each side. The company intends to fly the first full-scale demonstrator aircraft in 2026, followed by a production-representative airplane in 2027, with certification and entry into service targeted for 2029.
“We have performed quarter-scale, low-speed aerodynamic tests of the wing section, including cruise and high lift configurations, in 2023 and will expand our testing envelope this year towards higher speeds,” Cosmic co-founder and CEO Christoper Chahine told AIN. “Due to a challenging fundraising market last year, structures work on the wing section has been slightly pushed up and is now going to happen this year.”
Cosmic previously raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding announced in April 2022. The new seed funding round was led by venture capital firm Pale Blue Dot with participation from several climate tech investors, including Aera VC, Visionaries Club Tomorrow, Fifty Years, Possible Ventures, Syndicate One, Course Corrected, Understorey Capital, and Samurai Incubate.
“We are incredibly impressed by the pragmatic development approach the team at Cosmic has demonstrated and are convinced that this is the right way forward to enable a truly meaningful decarbonization of aviation,” said Joel Larsson, a general partner at Pale Blue Dot. “We are excited to back Cosmic and believe the team has what it takes to lead the aviation industry into a sustainable future.”
Before co-founding Cosmic in 2021, Chahine spent more than a decade as an aerospace researcher at the University of Oxford’s von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics. He left his academic career to pursue his sustainable aviation dreams alongside Cosmic co-founder and chief technology officer Marshall Gusman, an aerospace engineer with extensive experience in developing aircraft with Boom Supersonic, Kittyhawk, and NASA. The Cosmic team also includes Boom Supersonic co-founder and former chief technology officer Joe Wilding.