France-based start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies has received more purchase intentions from a helicopter operator, air carrier, aircraft charterer and cargo specialist. Between them, EvFly in Singapore, FlyShare in California, Helifirst and Jet Systems Helicopteres Services in France, and PhilJets Group in the Philippines have signed LoIs for a total of 227 units of the five seat hybrid eVTOL aircraft Atea.
The first customer, Yugo Global Industries, signed an LoI for 18 aircraft in February 2022.
“Our project to decarbonise aviation had to be anchored in reality,” says co-founder and CEO Jean-Christophe Lambert. “We built it around the cornerstones of our industry; safety, efficiency, resilience, comfort and cost effectiveness. These imperatives are at the heart of our customers' demands and guide our innovations. With the Atea, we can now offer our customers an easier transition to a low-carbon fleet, with a high performance, competitive aircraft available at very short notice.”
PhilJets head of sales and marketing Geoffroy Cahen says: “Ascendance’s proposal is conclusive: it offers a carbon-free aircraft adapted to a wide range of routes, uses and needs, which is what we are looking for in the highly competitive and constantly changing market in which we operate. We serve a wide range of needs across the 7,000-island Philippine archipelago, from charter flights to tourist flights, medical evacuations and on-site professional transportation. The distinction was also due to the Atea’s technological capabilities and Ascendance’s willingness to include us in the development process.”
FlyShare chairman James H Hopkins adds: “FlyShare is excited to be the first FAA Part 135 carrier to be able to deploy the Ascendance Atea in the USA. Ascendance has implemented several features in the Atea that give it superior range, speed and load capacity, and it matches the needs of our business model extremely well. We are impressed with Ascendance’s technical decisions with respect to the powerplant and the ability to incrementally improve the emissions profile of the aircraft over the first few years of its introduction into service. This makes it a very safe choice for both our customers and our business.”
Ascendance reckons these initial order intentions are a strong sign that it is making steady progress towards certification and entry into service of its aircraft.
“The Atea’s performances and assets have struck a chord with these customers, as they offer a tailor-made response to their operational needs,” says co-founder and CCO Thibault Baldivia. “We are now working closely with future users to ensure that the aircraft, once delivered, is perfectly adapted to their markets, their customers and their business model.”
The company currently has around 50 employees and expects to double its workforce by 2023. The delivery of its new facilities at the Muret-Lherm airfield, as well as its next full scale prototype test campaign, are also scheduled for next year. Demonstration flights will be held in Paris during the 2024 Olympics. The production launch of the aircraft is scheduled for 2025.