French start-up Ascendance unveils design of hybrid-electric aircraft and plans production in 2025

French aviation start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies has unveiled the design of the Atea, its five-seater vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, with the aim of accelerating the transition to green aviation.

Production and certification of the VTOL aircraft, designed to reduce carbon emissions by 80% and quadruple noise pollution, is scheduled for 2025.

The aircraft will come as a full-size prototype and enter the test phase in 2023, said Jean-Christophe Lambert, co-founder and CEO of Ascendance.

Atea was designed after three years of research and development and is designed to operate in peri-urban areas – areas that shift from rural to urban land use – and in areas with a range of 400 kilometers.

“The aircraft is the result of enormous efforts by our R&D department, tests and trials on four prototypes and a long reflection on the costs and the ease of piloting of such an aircraft. Its characteristics offer all the performance expected by a sector that the current transition has made more demanding, ”said Mr. Lambert.

Hybrid-electric planes use battery-powered electric powertrains, similar to those Tesla uses in its vehicles. There is a constant increase in the electrification of aircraft systems, research into electric propulsion, and investments in the design of electric or hybrid aircraft, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Icao has identified ongoing projects around the world ranging from general aviation or leisure aircraft, business and regional aircraft, large commercial aircraft and VTOL aircraft, which are also referred to as electric urban air taxis.

“Significant progress” has been made in the VTOL category in recent years, with seat capacities increased from one to five, maximum take-off masses now between 450 kg and 2,200 kg and projected flight ranges of 16 km 300 km away, he said.

Most of these projects are expected to enter service between 2020 and 2030, some of which are already commercially available. Four projects made their first flights in 2019, including the Lilium, CityAirbus, Boeing Aurora eVTOL and Bye Aerospace Sun Flyer 2, Icao said.

In September, the modified design of the CityAirbus was revealed. The European aircraft manufacturer aims to fly a prototype in 2023 and expects certification to come by 2025.

Putting these planes into service can make a significant contribution to climate change goals. Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after developing a propulsion concept earlier this year, estimate the technology would eliminate 95% of the aviation industry’s nitrogen oxide emissions, reducing the number of premature deaths 92% associates.

With the help of our financial partners, we are now experiencing vigorous development. We are actively recruiting, running a test and trial program and gradually moving towards our 2025 certification goal

Jean-Christophe Lambert, co-founder and CEO of Ascendance Flight Technologies

Atea’s setup features a patented integrated hybrid system called Sterna, designed on an electric motor powered by the fusion of two energy sources: combustion and electric (battery). Ascendance plans to phase out the source of combustion energy and replace it with new, cleaner energy sources, such as hydrogen or sustainable aviation fuel.

Achieving the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a challenge for the aviation industry, but it also offers a huge opportunity for the sustainable aviation fuel sector, an Energy Intelligence Forum conference recently said.

Ascendance’s patented rotor technology provides increased power during take-off and landing, in addition to significant noise reduction. Atea’s number of rotors also guarantees maneuverability in the event of a breakdown.

Its lift and cruise system, meanwhile, ensures the separation of vertical and horizontal flight, which are ensured by the rotors for the first and by propellers located in the nose and fin for the second. The resulting absence of pivot mechanisms therefore reduces the risk of failure, which also simplifies the certification of the aircraft while improving the overall safety of the aircraft.

“With the help of our financial partners, we are now experiencing vigorous development. We are actively recruiting, running a test and trial program and we are gradually moving towards our 2025 certification goal, ”said Lambert.

Updated: December 2, 2021, 04:02

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