Alaska Airlines announced the formation of a new LLC, Alaska Star Ventures, to advance emerging technology that will accelerate the airline's progress toward net zero carbon emissions.
"To live our purpose and create an airline people love, we must operate every day in a way that cares for both people and the environment, To do that, we are seeking technologies that will accelerate our mission to build a more sustainable future for the aviation industry."
- Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.
For the inaugural investment by Alaska Star Ventures, the company partnered with UP.Partners, an early-stage investor in sustainable, multi-dimensional mobility technologies that are transforming the moving world.
"The future of aviation is a collaborative effort between founders, funders, builders and key stakeholders - like Alaska Airlines, With transportation as the underlying fabric of society, selective and values-driven investments that move the industry toward sustainable aviation are key. We're proud to partner with such a mission-aligned group that is launching today: Alaska Star Ventures."
- Cyrus Sigari, UP.Partners' co-founder and managing partner.
"We're proud of our ambitious targets and our legacy of being pioneers, but we also know we can't fundamentally decarbonize and achieve net zero carbon emissions alone, That's why we're focused on discovering, partnering with, and enabling technologies that will allow us to take real and meaningful steps on our five-part path to net zero now and in the years ahead. We're thrilled to partner with UP.Partners on our first project and are fortunate to have aviation veteran Pasha Saleh leading corporate development to successfully launch and grow this initiative."
- Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines' vice president of public affairs and sustainability.
Alaska announced in April its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 with a five-part strategy to decarbonize. Alaska's deployment of Flyways, artificial intelligence and machine learning software that supports our dispatchers' route optimization efforts, inspired the pursuit of additional technologies to accelerate our path to net zero and enable efforts of Alaska employees across our system.
The company's commitments to reduce its impact on carbon, waste and water build on a track record of progress in environmental sustainability including industry-leading onboard recycling, eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks, enabling touchless and paper-less guest experiences through technology, advancing the use of sustainable aviation fuels, and partnering with the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program to evaluate and test sustainability-focused technology.
About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines and its regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. The airline emphasizes Next-Level Care for its guests, along with providing low fares, award-winning customer service and sustainability efforts. Alaska is a member of oneworld. With the global alliance and the airline's additional partners, guests can travel to more than 1,000 destinations on more than 20 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world.
Transportation is the underlying fabric of society. UP.Partners invests in the key enabling technologies that help move people and cleaner, faster, safer, and cheaper – in a multi-dimensional world. We partner with some of the world's most innovative investors and companies – including Alaska Airlines, Ark Invest, Boeing, Honeywell, Sixt and Toyota subsidiary Woven Capital – and via the UP.Summit convene the mobility community's brightest minds each year to make these dreams a reality. Together we are transforming the moving world.
DEFENSE AND SPACE
Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. [NYSE: SPR] held a grand opening event and ribbon cutting ceremony for its National Defense Prototype Center (NDPC), a joint project with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR). This new research center will significantly expand Spirit’s capabilities and production efficiencies in the defense and space market.
NIAR has been a tremendous partner in the development of the National Defense Prototype Center and enabling Wichita as a center for defense growth, The NDPC provides a secure space for high temperature materials testing, as well as development, prototyping and industrialization capabilities to support Spirit’s growth strategy targeting $1 billion of defense revenue by the mid-2020s.
- Duane Hawkins, Spirit AeroSystems executive vice president; president, Defense and Space.
The research center comes soon after Kansas earned its designation as one of 11 Defense Manufacturing Communities by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program will encourage long-term community investments to strengthen national security innovation and expand the capabilities of the defense manufacturing industrial ecosystem.
The National Defense Prototype Center encompasses more than 125,000 square feet of manufacturing and lab space with processing and characterization capabilities, including high temperature testing, furnaces for fabricating and processing materials, multi-method non-destructive inspection, robotic automated fiber placement technology and a large autoclave. The center promotes the capacity to sustain broader and maximum throughput capabilities to support a high-priority national defense program.
The more knowledge that can be generated and disseminated about high temperature materials, the more these materials can be used, optimized, and designed for specific objectives. This leads to reliable and safe products that enable the industry to go further, push faster, and break through current design limitations. Not only is this a first for the state of Kansas, but for the nation in terms of testing capacity at these temperatures.
- John Tomblin, Wichita State’s senior vice president for Industry & Defense Programs and NIAR executive director.
The research center is the first of its kind with the ability to attract new aviation, defense, and space programs with a focus on high-temperature materials, such as hypersonic missiles, that can withstand temperatures of 2,500-5,000°F. The NDPC offers distinctive capabilities and research technology that will spur the development of new high temperature materials and ultra-competitive composites.
About Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
Spirit AeroSystems is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial airplanes, defense platforms, and business/regional jets. With expertise in aluminum and advanced composite manufacturing solutions, the company’s core products include fuselages, integrated wings and wing components, pylons, and nacelles. We are leveraging decades of design and manufacturing expertise to be the most innovative and reliable supplier of military aerostructures, and specialty high-temperature materials, enabling warfighters to execute complex, critical missions. Spirit also serves the aftermarket for commercial and business/regional jets. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit has facilities in the U.S., U.K., France, Malaysia and Morocco.
Volocopter's heavy-lift electric drone VoloDrone made its first public flight today at the ITS 2021 World Congress . Together with international logistics leader DB Schenker, Volocopter, the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), demonstrated the seamless integration of VoloDrone into the supply chain with an end-to-end freight transport demonstration. The partners showed the significant progress they have made together since DB Schenker became a strategic investor of Volocopter in early 2020.
The 3-minute test flight took off at 3:02 p.m. from homePORT Hamburg and reached a maximum altitude of 22 meters. For this delivery simulation, the heavy transport electric drone was fitted with a loading box between its landing gears. First, the demonstration teams fixed a load the size of a Europe palleton the box located under the VoloDrone, before taking off gently. The aircraft then brought the payload to a DB Schenker cargo bike and landed safely. After the payload was successfully transferred, the cargo bike delivered its cargo to its final destination under the area parking lot, marking the completion of the last mile fully electric multimodal delivery.
“This first public flight of the VoloDrone is a strong sign for Volocopter's leadership position in the UAM industry. We are the only company in UAM to provide solutions for passengers and cargo flying on a full scale and publicly all over the world. Our VoloDrone will make existing logistics processes more robust, efficient and sustainable. DB Schenker is an invaluable partner in our efforts to harness the enormous potential of our VoloDrone's use cases in the field of logistics. "
- Florian Reuter , CEO of Volocopter
Erik Wirsing , Vice President of Global Innovation at DB Schenker, comments: “With the flight of the VoloDrone today, we were able to publicly demonstrate our successful collaboration and the impressive progress of DB Schenker's roadmap in innovation and sustainability for cleaner logistics. Volocopter has proven once again to be the ideal partner for DB Schenker's ambition to rethink global supply chains and take transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers while reducing emissions. "
The demonstration in Hamburg builds on the foundations of the static proof of concept (PoC) that the partners carried out in July this year in Stuttgart . It has established an implementation plan for VoloDrone operations in logistics facilities around the world.
The VoloDrone is an unmanned, fully electric drone designed to carry pallets of any size among the six sizes of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), weighing up to 200 kilograms, over a distance of 40 kilometers . As part of Volocopter's strong line of UAM aircraft for transporting passengers ( VoloCity and VoloConnect ) and freight in cities, the VoloDrone is positioned to be deployed where conventional transport options reach their limits. In addition to the development of the device, Volocopter organizes the physical ( VoloPorts ) and digital ( VoloIQ) to support these services, which should be launched within the next two to three years. VoloIQ serves as the digital backbone for operations.
The first flight of the VoloDrone took place in 2019. Since then, regular flight tests have been carried out at various aerodromes in Germany. The drone itself measures 9.15 meters in diameter, 2.15 meters in height and has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 600 kilograms. Future VoloDrone operations will be fully electric with autonomous capabilities beyond visual visibility (BVLOS).
Volocopter is building the world's first sustainable and scalable urban air mobility company to deliver affordable air taxi services for goods and people in mega-cities around the world. Volocopter leads and works with partners in infrastructure, operations and air traffic management to create the ecosystem needed to "bring urban air mobility to life." Volocopter has 400 employees in its offices in Bruchsal, Munich and Singapore. The company has raised a total of 322 million euros in equity from investors such as Daimler, Geely, DB Schenker, BlackRock and Intel Capital,