Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) has secured investment from the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), the investment arm of the Tawazun Economic Council of the UAE, and California-based venture capital fund Motus Ventures, taking its current investment round to £14.4million.
CAeS is a UK pioneer in aerospace design and the manufacture of new aircraft design concepts, complex modifications to existing aircraft and integration of cutting-edge technologies to meet the most challenging issues facing the aerospace industry today. CAeS focus is now firmly on Project Fresson, the unlocking of commercial hydrogen-electric propulsion flight.
CEO Paul Hutton says: “We are very excited to welcome our new investors, Tawazun SDF and Motus Ventures, to join us on our journey in delivering the world's first fully certified zero-emissions commercial passenger aircraft to the market. To continue the work on Project Fresson we need private investment. The onboarding of Tawazun SDF and Motus Ventures shows the confidence and trust they have in our experience and ability to deliver the technology needed to create the future of aviation.”
Project Fresson is the development of a regulatory certified, commercially viable zero-emissions aircraft, initially with hybrid-electric propulsion system and now hydrogen fuel cells with wing-mounted fuel tanks, using the Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander. Cranfield applied for UK government grants through the Aerospace Technology Institute and UK Research and Innovation, and approached private enterprises. The project targets short flights, and is being considered for Scottish airline Loganair's short flights to the Orkney Islands' six airfields, including the world's shortest, the Westray to Papa Westray flight, at 1.5 minutes. First flight is still planned for 2022, and entry into service for late 2023 or early 2024.
SDF managing director and CEO Abdulla Naser Al Jaabari adds: “We are pleased to invest in CAeS, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft, through our Venture Capital fund. The investment is based on our interest in hydrogen as a clean power source in aerospace, our conviction in the capabilities of CAeS and the importance of working within the regulatory environment in a pragmatic and effective approach, which CAeS demonstrated. Further, we are confident in Project Fresson's consortium led by CAeS, and we look forward to engaging with CAeS as an active shareholder and supporting the growth and development of the businesses.”
SDF is a UAE government owned investment fund that invests in strategic sectors including advanced industrial, aerospace, autonomous and mobility technologies.