businesswire | September 14, 2023
H2FLY, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Joby Aviation, today announced the successful completion of the world’s first piloted flight of a liquid hydrogen-powered electric aircraft.
H2FLY, acquired by Joby in 2021, continues to lead the industry on the development and testing of hydrogen aviation propulsion systems. The company completed a series of piloted flights with its HY4 demonstrator aircraft, including one that lasted more than three hours, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and liquid hydrogen that powered it for the entire flight.
The flights demonstrate the viability of using cryogenically-stored liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen, which enables significantly lower tank weights and volume, leading to longer range. The successful installation and demonstration of flight with liquid hydrogen is believed to increase the range of H2FLY’s HY4 demonstrator aircraft from 466 mi (750 km) to 932 mi (1500 km), marking a critical step towards the long-term decarbonization of mid- to long-range aviation.
“H2FLY are pioneers in their field, and we’re proud of them achieving this watershed moment in the use of liquid hydrogen to power aircraft,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “In the years to come, battery-electric and hydrogen-electric propulsion systems will enable us to build aircraft that are quieter and make mid- to long-range air travel possible with zero emissions. It’s critical we take action now and invest aggressively in these technologies for the health of our planet and future generations to come.”
The successful flights are the culmination of Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid hydrogen in aircraft. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.
Following this test flight milestone, H2FLY will increasingly focus on its path to commercialization. In June, H2FLY announced the development of its new fuel cell systems, which will be capable of providing their full power range at altitudes high enough to enable commercial hydrogen-electric aircraft, demonstrating real-world commercial aircraft applications.
Joby Aviation, Inc. is a California-based transportation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing air taxi which it intends to operate as part of a fast, quiet, and convenient service in cities around the world.
Wheels Up | September 26, 2023
Wheels Up Experience (NYSE: UP) today announced that it has closed the previously announced investment by Delta Air Lines, Certares Management LLC, Knighthead Capital Management LLC and Cox Enterprises.
The new investment structure combines the experience of Delta, the No. 1 premium airline, with the travel and tourism focus of Certares and turnaround and restructuring experience of Knighthead. It includes an agreement for a $500 million credit facility to Wheels Up, with funds contributed by Delta and CK Wheels LLC, which is co-managed by affiliates of Certares and Knighthead, and Cox. The announcement follows last week's selection of George Mattson as the company's new CEO.
"This investment represents both an important source of capital for Wheels Up to support our strategy for financial stability, future profitability and long-term growth on behalf of our members and customers, as well as a vote of confidence in our path forward from a group of investors with deep experience in the premium travel space," Mattson said. "We look forward to working closely with Delta and our other investors to deliver best-in-class operating performance and an exceptional customer experience which, as we deepen our commercial partnership, will also enable us to provide a one-of-a-kind seamless connection between private and premium commercial travel."
"Wheels Up is an integral part of Delta's portfolio of premium partners, and this deep relationship offers a significant opportunity to deliver compelling benefits to our customers that are unique in the travel space," said Dan Janki, Wheels Up Chairman and Delta's Chief Financial Officer. "This investment and new leadership puts Wheels Up on a strong path to future success."
The credit facility is comprised of a $350 million term loan funded at closing from Delta, CK Wheels LLC and Cox and a $100 million revolving credit facility from Delta. The terms of the credit agreement permit a new lender to provide a $50 million term loan after the closing date, as approved by Delta, Certares, Knighthead and Cox, and it is anticipated this additional funding will close in the near term.
In connection with the closing of the credit facility, the lenders will initially receive newly issued Wheels Up common stock representing 80% of the company's outstanding equity as of the closing of the credit facility, on a fully diluted basis. After approval by Wheels Up's stockholders of an amendment to its certificate of incorporation, the company will issue to the lenders additional new shares such that the lenders will own 95% of the company's outstanding equity as of the closing of the credit facility, on a fully diluted basis.
Wheels Up also announced a new structure for its Board of Directors. Under the new structure, Delta Air Lines will appoint four directors, Certares and Knighthead each will appoint two directors, and Cox will appoint one director. In addition, one company executive will join the Board and two independent directors are expected to remain from the previous Board.
The parties were assisted in the transaction by a number of strategic advisors, including: Davis Polk, Jefferies LLC, Kirkland & Ellis and PJT Partners.
About Wheels Up
Wheels Up is a leading provider of on-demand private aviation in the U.S. and one of the largest private aviation companies in the world. Wheels Up offers a complete global aviation solution with a large, modern, and diverse fleet, backed by an uncompromising commitment to safety and service. Customers can access membership programs, charter, aircraft management services and whole aircraft sales, as well as unique commercial travel benefits through a strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines. Wheels Up also offers freight, safety and security solutions and managed services to individuals, industry, government, and civil organizations.
Wheels Up is guided by the mission to connect private flyers to aircraft, and one another, through an open platform that seamlessly enables life's most important experiences. Powered by a global private aviation marketplace connecting its base of approximately 12,000 members and customers to a network of approximately 1,500 safety-vetted and verified private aircraft, Wheels Up is widening the aperture of private travel for millions of consumers globally. With the Wheels Up mobile app and website, members and customers have the digital convenience to search, book and fly.
Businesswire | July 21, 2023
Reliable Robotics, a leader in safety-enhancing aircraft automation systems, today announced its certification plan was formally accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Reliable autonomous flight system enables continuous autopilot engagement through all phases of aircraft operation including taxi, takeoff and landing. This landmark achievement marks unrivaled progress towards the certification of fully automated aircraft.
“Reliable is the only company that has reached this critical point, positioning them as the clear front-runner in the FAA certification process for autonomous aircraft,” said Eric Schulz, former Rolls-Royce and Airbus executive. “Reliable’s automation system will make aviation even safer and provide more affordable air transportation for cargo and passengers anytime, anywhere.”
Notably, the certification plan leverages existing regulations for normal and transport category aircraft, and does not require any special conditions or exemptions. “This agreement concludes many years of effort with the FAA to rigorously determine how autonomous systems will be integrated into aircraft,” said Juerg Frefel, Co-founder and CTO of Reliable Robotics. “Working within current rules enables us–and the FAA–to move faster and continue to improve the high levels of safety we have come to expect in aviation.”
Reliable’s autonomous aircraft system, recently demonstrated as part of U.S. Air Force and NASA flight test campaigns, includes key technologies that will prevent common causes of aviation accidents and improve operational efficiency. High integrity navigation systems make it possible to safely fly in lower visibility weather conditions without costly ground infrastructure. An “always on” autopilot also enables any aircraft to be remotely piloted with continuous engagement from departure gate to arrival gate.
”We are incredibly grateful to our FAA partners for their engagement and thorough review of this system, and are excited about the safety benefits this technology will bring to aviation,” said Robert Rose, Co-founder and CEO at Reliable Robotics. “Autonomy can and will be certified in the very near future, and this milestone is evidence that the United States and the FAA are going to be leading the way.”
About Reliable Robotics
Reliable Robotics launched in 2017 to bring safe, certified automation systems to commercial aviation. The company’s system enables remote operation of any aircraft type. Reliable’s vision is to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA and has a distributed global workforce.
Businesswire | July 19, 2023
Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, successfully launched seven satellites for NASA, Space Flight Laboratory and Spire Global from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand today at 13:27 NZST .
The Baby Come Back mission was Rocket Lab’s seventh launch for the year and the Company’s 39th Electron launch overall. In addition to delivering a flawless primary mission of deploying customer satellites to orbit, Rocket Lab completed a successful ocean splashdown and recovery of Electron’s first stage as part of the Company’s program to make Electron the world’s first reusable small rocket. Around 2.5 minutes after lift-off, at an altitude of almost 75 km, Electron’s first stage separated from the second stage as planned. While the second stage continued onto orbit to deploy the seven satellites on board, Electron’s first stage began the journey back to Earth at speeds of more than 9,000 km per hour, reaching temperatures of 2,400 Celsius. At around 8.5 minutes after lift-off, the first stage successfully deployed a main parachute slowing its descent, enabling a soft splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. From there, Rocket Lab’s recovery team rendezvoused with the stage on the water, successfully bringing it onto a vessel using a specially designed capture cradle. The stage is now enroute back to Rocket Lab’s production complex for analysis ahead to inform future recovery missions, and eventually re-flight of an Electron.
“We’re delighted to have delivered yet another successful Electron mission and would like to thank the teams at Space Flight Laboratory, Spire Global, and NASA, for entrusting us with their innovative science and tech demonstration missions,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “With this mission we’ve made big strides toward reusability with Electron and we are now closer than ever to relaunching a booster for the first time.”
Satellites launched on Baby Come Back:
NASA: NASA’s Starling mission is a four CubeSat mission designed to advance technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft – also known as swarms. Spacecraft swarms refer to multiple spacecraft autonomously coordinating their activities in orbit. Once positioned in orbit around Earth and spaced about 40 miles / 64 km apart, Starling’s spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to autonomously fly together while keeping track of each other’s relative positions and trajectories. They also will demonstrate the ability to plan and execute activities as a group, without guidance from mission controllers, including responding to new information from onboard sensors. Starling’s spacecraft also will demonstrate creating and maintaining an inter-spacecraft communications network that automatically adjusts to changing conditions. NASA’s Starling mission will test whether the technologies work as expected, what their limitations are, and what developments are still needed for CubeSat swarms to be successful. Starling is funded by NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington.
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL): Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) selected Rocket Lab to launch Telesat’s LEO 3 demonstration satellite that will provide continuity for customer and ecosystem vendor testing campaigns following the decommissioning of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. LEO 3 will serve an important role for low-latency customer applications testing, and for supporting LEO antenna and modem development efforts in advance of the Telesat Lightspeed network deployment.
Spire Global: Spire launched two 3U satellites carrying Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) payloads to replenish its fully deployed constellation of more than 100 multipurpose satellites. Spire’s satellites observe the Earth in real time using radio frequency technology. The data acquired by Spire’s GNSS-RO payloads provide global weather intelligence that can be assimilated into weather models to improve the accuracy of forecasts.
Rocket Lab is preparing to launch its 40th Electron mission before the end of the month, with mission details to be released in the coming days.
ABOUT Rocket Lab
Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 170 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a third pad in Virginia.