On The Radar
Balance Sheets Don't Lie as First of the eVTOL SPAC Pack Post Quarterly Earnings
The select group of eVTOL aircraft developers that have so far touched down on Wall Street following a SPAC-merger-based flight path to equity flotations has brought with it some improved visibility regarding the financial realities of the advanced air mobility (AAM) gold rush. Starting last week, we’ve seen the first of the start-ups-gone-public—Archer, Joby, and Lilium—post quarterly financial results for the period ending on September 30, and, predictably, the bottom lines remain resolutely red with the prospect of returns on investment still some three years away.
Joby’s recently published Q3 2021 stakeholder letter is a prime example of how reporting requirements have brought transparency. At face value, the California-based start-up seems to be on a firm footing as it strives to bring its four-passenger eVTOL into commercial service in 2024.
It reported $1.4 billion cash in hand, which is almost two and three times the reserves now held by Archer and Lilium, respectively. The company acknowledges that its entirely anticipated third-quarter EBITDA loss of $55.9 million resulted mainly from the investment it is making in talent, with almost 1,000 employees now on the payroll. Cutting-edge aerospace engineering doesn’t come cheap, especially with inflation getting a grip on major economies in North America and Europe.
For Joby’s founder Joe-Ben Bevirt, AAM has always been a long game and his team has already expended a decade of blood, sweat, and possibly some tears in getting to the point where it has a full-scale prototype actively engaged in a demand flight test program as part of its FAA type certification campaign. Meanwhile, the third-quarter financial summary also explains how the company is scaling up manufacturing capability and advancing preparations for revenue-earning flights, with its application for a Part 135 air carrier certificate now being processed.
Meanwhile, on the upside of the ledger, Joby is now generating its first modest revenues. These are being generated by development work it is conducting on the Pentagon’s dime through contracts with the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program to evaluate the use of eVTOL vehicles in military service.
Next up will be Vertical Aerospace, which is understood to be close to completing its own journey to Wall Street as it prepares to merge with special purpose acquisition company Broadstone.