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Viala joins Ascendance to lead tech management
Stéphane Viala's technical knowledge, integration skills and experience in all segments of aviation will be key to the development of Ascendance's sustainable flight solutions.
Director of engineering and programme Stéphane Viala.
Read this story in our February 2023 printed issue.

France-based start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies has appointed Stéphane Viala as director of engineering and programme, to oversee the technical management of its two flagship programmes: the Sterna modular hybrid propulsion system and the hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft Atea.

Viala is an aeronautical engineer from ISAE-ENSMA who also holds a PhD in turbulence modelling from SUPAERO/ONERA. He was previously SVP engineering and head of design organisation of French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, which he joined in 2015.

Before being appointed by ATR, Viala had been in various leading positions at Airbus for 16 years. He first headed the aerodynamic methods and A350 flight dynamics teams before leading the A30X flight physics and flight dynamics integrated team. He also defined products evolution, multidisciplinary methods and technology in R&T programmes for four years as head of overall aircraft design, encompassing flight physics, engine, flight test bed and methods and tools perimeter. He was the A320 incremental development chief engineer before joining ATR. He holds several patents in the aerospace field and has published several technical articles.

His technical knowledge, 360° integration skills and wide experience in all segments of aviation, paired with his comprehensive understanding of the aeronautical market, will be key to the development and promotion of Ascendance Flight Technologies' sustainable flight solutions.

Viala says: "I am excited to be part of such an innovative and differentiating project. My commitment to bringing clean aircraft to the skies and my growing interest in the potential of hybrid propulsion have led me to closely follow Ascendance's progress. I am impressed with what the team has achieved so far. The project is sound and credible in terms of segment and purpose, and the growing number of LOIs reflects that. The team is highly skilled, and I share their vision that hybridisation is key to a fast and efficient transition towards green aviation. I am delighted to spearhead the technical development of both the Sterna and Atea, and look forward to meeting our next goals: to make the aeronautical industry benefit from our Sterna hybridisation technology, and to fly, certify and industrialise our Atea aircraft.”

Ascendance's vision and achievements have steadily attracted high profile professionals with extensive experience in the aeronautical industry. Viala's appointment follows the recent arrival of ex-senior vice president marketing and CMO of Airbus François Caudron as special advisor, business. Robert Lafontan, former senior vice president of engineering at Airbus, joined the team in 2021 as executive technical advisor.

CEO Jean-Christophe Lambert says: “We are thrilled to welcome Stéphane Viala. He is a consummate professional who has performed in all the development and lifecycle phases of an aircraft, from the advanced projects and fly tests to the production and global fleet management. His experience in the field of innovative aviation, as well as his aircraft architect view, will be essential in leading our technical development. We are committed to rapidly deliver the best decarbonisation solutions to the aerospace industry, and having Stéphane on board is an incredible value to the team and a major step towards our goals.”

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