Jaunt strengthens eVTOL plans by merging with Airo group

Jaunt Air Mobility (stand 4100F) will merge its eVTOL aircraft business with the Airo group in an operation that should lead to an initial public offering (IPO) in 2022. The American company Airo has built an air mobility portfolio advanced (AAM) companies in recent years, and this also includes several companies manufacturing and operating drones, avionics and robotics capabilities, and the NeoXcraft eVTOL vehicle developed by the British company VRCO.

The companies on Monday announced a definitive merger agreement with the intention of raising an unspecified amount of capital to support the development of the five-seat all-electric Jaunt eVTOL aimed to put into commercial service by 2026. The company is also working with VerdeGo Aero on a hybrid-electric version of the aircraft that would offer range beyond the initial model’s 80-mile limit.

Several eVTOL aircraft developers, including Joby, Archer and Lilium, have raised significant capital by going public through mergers with Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). Airo elected to proceed with an IPO directly, maintaining that the established revenues and customer base of the existing drone businesses of subsidiaries such as Airo Drone, Agile Defense, Coastal Defense, Aironet, Sky-Watch and Airgility, as well as The avionics maker Aspen will inspire confidence in investors who may be concerned about the bursting of the AAM funding bubble.

“It is a little more difficult for entities in this sector to enter the market now without breadth [in capabilities], good sources of income and an established customer base, ”said Airo CEO Joe Burns. AIN. The group’s drone business supports a variety of government clients in applications such as close air support and military training.

According to Burns, who has experience in the airline industry, potential clients for the Jaunt eVTOL could include regional airlines and helicopter operators. Airo is also looking to target the private aviation sector, which it says could use the new vehicles to provide more efficient transportation options for wealthy people.

The Jaunt eVTOL is based on the company’s patented idle rotor compound technology, which slows down the rotor tip speed to reduce drag and vibration. According to the company, the capacity combined with a small wing for cruising flight produces a lift-to-drag ratio equivalent to that of a fixed-wing aircraft. Jaunt intends to certify the aircraft to FAA Part 29 rules for commercially operated rotorcraft.

Unlike other eVTOL companies, Airo does not intend to directly operate its aircraft. The business model will be based on selling vehicles to established operators while providing full customer and product support.

Airo Group Chairman Chirinjeev Kathuria said AIN that VRCO’s NeoXcraft will initially focus on stand-alone freight operations, but may also be suitable for passenger flights destined for the VIP market. “Due to the efficiency and safety features inherent in [larger] With a Jaunt design, it is ideally suited as a high volume manned “feeder” aircraft for regional air operations and platform operations such as [carry workers to] oil rigs, ”he explained.

“[The] Airo Group’s positioning is based on decades of experience in the industry through the eVTOL cell, the drone [manufacturing] and the drone services, training and avionics markets, providing a leading company in the sector, ”said Kathuria. Following a wave of aerospace industry mergers, he claimed that there is now a void in the market that midsize companies like Airo must fill by offering larger capabilities and an established customer base. that many eVTOL startups are missing.

“In the urban air mobility market, we believe there is room for three new manufacturers and two existing ones,” he commented, while acknowledging that some of Airo’s competitors promise returns. sales of the new aircraft from around 2024. “Certification, endurance and training issues will likely delay the introduction of the service by most vendors for at least three years.

Jaunt CEO Martin Peryea said the company’s plans to certify and start manufacturing its Journey aircraft will go as planned after the merger, with existing partners including BAE Systems, Triumph and CAE all committed to the program. However, he sees opportunities to exploit the technology developed by the new siblings of the Airo group, including systems to support the longer-term autonomous operations planned for the AAM sector.

“There will be significant advantages to fully integrating our ERP [enterprise resource planning], HR and supply chain processes, as well as sharing a wide range of internal capabilities such as avionics, flight controls, range and artificial intelligence, ”added Burns.

Meanwhile, Airo’s UK subsidiary VRCO is preparing to begin flight tests of its four-seater eVTOL XP4 prototype in 2022. Aspen Avionics plans to supply flight displays for the aircraft. CEO Michael Smith said AIN that the company might seek to pursue logistics delivery requests for the vehicle before obtaining approval for passenger transport.

This story is from FutureFlight.aero, a news and information resource developed by AIN provide objective and independent coverage and analysis of advanced aviation technology, including electric aircraft developments and advanced air mobility.

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