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Funding puts Ascendance on track for prototype flight
Ascendance is entering an intensive prototyping and scale up phase following the delivery of its integration and test flight facilities at Muret L’Herm. This latest funding will allow it to ramp up towards certification.
The Atea has a range of 400km+ and a turn-around time of only 10 minutes, and meets the operational requirements of operators for passenger, EMS, sightseeing, and surveillance missions.
Read this story in our April 2023 printed issue.

France-based start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies has raised €21 million from French Tech Souveraineté, operated by Bpifrance as part of the France 2030 plan, CELAD, Expansion Aerospace Ventures, SC Mahé, Adrien Montfort (CTO Sorare) via Snaw Ventures and ARIS Occitanie, alongside significant reinvestment from Habert Dassault Finance, Céleste Management, IRDI and M-Capital.

These new funds give the company the resources to fly its full scale prototype, begin certification and scale up actions for its first aircraft, all with the goal of helping clients and partners to reduce the carbon emissions of their aircraft thanks to its hybrid technology.

“This fundraising round is critical for sustainable aviation in France," says co-founder and CEO Jean-Christophe Lambert. "It is a logical step forward in our roadmap for the industry’s energy transition. It will accelerate the technical and commercial development of our products while also contributing to our central aim: to build a sustainable model for cleaner air mobility. We are very proud to have brought together these renowned financial partners, whose quality and complementary nature will ensure that they can support the company through its upcoming development stages.”

Bpifrance director of investments Adrien Muller adds: “Via French Tech Souveraineté, Bpifrance is delighted to support the teams at Ascendance Flight Technologies in this crucial new phase of the company’s development. Ascendance Flight Technologies aims to revolutionise and decarbonise civil aviation through its innovative industrial project. This investment is fully in line with the climate and industrial components of our roadmap.”

“We’re impressed at the pace at which the company is growing, the implementation of its roadmap and the commitment of its teams," says Habert Dassault Finance managing director Benoit Habert. "Habert Dassault Finance has therefore decided to increase its share ownership by taking part in this second round.”

CELAD president Vincent Gardeau continues: “We were drawn to Ascendance Flight Technologies’ innovative, disruptive and decarbonised project and the team's enthusiasm. Taking part in this wonderful venture is an opportunity to support France’s environmentally friendly aeronautics ecosystem. The synergies between our companies are clear, particularly in our IT and electronics expertise in embedded systems. CELAD is an industry player with a long term commitment to helping AFT achieve its ambitions.”

With its twin positioning as a manufacturer of both aircraft and engines, the Toulouse-based start up has focused on markets linked to more sustainable and decarbonised aviation since it was founded in 2018. Ascendance has chosen hybrid electric propulsion as a realistic approach to sustainable aviation, applicable to multiple long range uses (passenger transport, medical, logistics and surveillance applications). The Atea, its VTOL aircraft, is a quiet, low-carbon alternative to helicopters that provides an ideal response to the need for decentralised and regional point-to-point aviation. Sterna, its modular hybrid electric propulsion system, compatible with sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and hydrogen, will open up the possibility of a new generation of aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.

Ascendance is now entering an intensive prototyping and scale up phase with the recent delivery of its integration and test flight facilities at Muret L’Herm aerodrome near Toulouse. The company will continue with its roadmap, with the aim of delivering its first aircraft in 2026. The coming years will bring major steps forward in two priority development areas:

- Building the first flight-capable full scale prototype of its Atea aircraft and continuing with the aircraft certification process that is currently under way with EASA.

- Fulfilling its first contracts and partnership agreements to integrate Sterna modular hybrid propulsion into existing aircraft.

The company received 245 letters of intent (LOI) for its Atea aircraft in 2022 and carried out full scale testing of its hybrid technology, and is continuing to expand its personnel. Leading talents such as Stéphane Viala, previously SVP engineering at ATR, have already joined, and 50 positions will be created over the next 18 months to bring new skills.

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