Dassault Finds Buyers for Belgian Aeronautics Firm SABCA

Aviation International News | February 07, 2020

Dassault Finds Buyers for Belgian Aeronautics Firm SABCA
Dassault Group has reached a deal to sell its 97 percent shareholding in SABCA to a new joint venture between Belgium’s sovereign wealth fund SFPI/FPIM and independent Belgian MRO provider Sabena Aerospace. In a statement released Friday, SABCA chairman and CEO Thibauld Jongen said the proposed acquisition offers a “very exciting perspective” for the future of the Brussels-based OEM that employs some 1,000 staff across three sites in Belgium and one facility in Casablanca, Morocco. The profile of the new shareholders, he asserted, “fits perfectly our needs for accelerating and intensifying the deployment of our strategic transformation plan initiated a few years ago. The new constellation creates a true aerospace leader in Belgium, with a strong position in civil aviation, defense, and space.”

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AVIATION TECHNOLOGY

Wisk Aero Secures $450 Million from The Boeing Company to Advance Certified Autonomous Electric Flight

WISK | January 25, 2022

Wisk, a leading Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company and developer of the first all-electric, self-flying air taxi in the U.S., has secured $450 million in funding from The Boeing Company, making it one of the most well-funded AAM companies in the world. Combined with previous funding, this investment reinforces Wisk’s strong position as a privately-backed AAM leader and highlights the strength of Wisk’s strategic partnership with Boeing and their collaboration on critical technology development. This investment will further advance the development of Wisk’s 6th generation eVTOL aircraft, a first-ever candidate for certification of an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft in the U.S. The funding will also support the company as it enters an intensive growth phase over the next year, its preparations for the launch of scale manufacturing, and the company’s Go-to-Market efforts. Within five years following the certification of its 6th generation aircraft, Wisk intends to operate one of the industry’s largest fleets of AAM eVTOL aircraft. The scale of this fleet is enabled by the company’s autonomous technology, a competitive differentiator and industry-recognized key to scaling services and maximizing safety. In this timeframe, Wisk anticipates close to 14M annual flights bringing time savings to over 40 million people across 20 cities – all with zero emissions. “Wisk is extremely well-positioned to deliver on our long-term strategy and commitment to safe, everyday flight for everyone. We are incredibly fortunate to have Boeing as not only an investor but a strategic partner, which provides us with access to a breadth of resources, industry-leading expertise, a global reach, extensive certification experience, and more. As we enter this next stage of our growth, this additional funding provides us with capital while allowing us to remain focused on our core business and our number one priority, safety.” -Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk "With this investment, we are reconfirming our belief in Wisk’s business and the importance of their work in pioneering all-electric, AI-driven, autonomous capability for the aerospace industry. Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle. Boeing and Wisk have been at the forefront of AAM innovation for more than a decade, and will continue to lead in the years ahead.” -Marc Allen, Chief Strategy Officer of Boeing With its deep expertise in autonomous, electric flight, its extensive flight test history, key knowledge and insights from the development of five generations of aircraft, and the strength of its partnerships, Wisk is positioned to maintain its leadership in the AAM and broader mobility space. Wisk began in 2010 as Zee Aero, with a mission to deliver safe, everyday flight for everyone, and later merged with Kitty Hawk Corporation. Upon recognizing the commercial potential of Wisk’s 5th generation aircraft, the aircraft and team were spun out to form Wisk, with an investment from The Boeing Company. Over the past decade, Wisk has achieved a number of aviation and industry firsts, most notably, the first flight of an all-electric, autonomous, eVTOL aircraft designed for passenger use, in the U.S. Previous undisclosed funding rounds were led by The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation, through a joint venture, making Wisk one of the only AAM companies to be backed by two aviation leaders. Kitty Hawk remains an investor and has supported the development of Wisk’s previous generations of aircraft. ABOUT WISK Wisk is an advanced air mobility (AAM) company dedicated to delivering safe, everyday flight for everyone. Wisk’s self-flying, eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi, will make it possible for passengers to skip the traffic and get to their destination faster. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New Zealand, Wisk is an independent company backed by The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation. With over a decade of experience and over 1500 test flights, Wisk is shaping the future of daily commutes and urban travel, safely and sustainably.

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Qantas Returns To Rome After An 18 Year Absence

Simple Flying | December 15, 2021

Qantas is returning to Rome with a seasonal service to run from June 2022 through to October. The three times a week flights will see the Australian airline return to Italy after an 18-year absence. The flights will also mark Qantas’ return to continental Europe. From June 22, 2022, QF5 will push back from Sydney at 17:55 every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for the four-hour and 55-minute hop over to Perth. After a 90 minute stopover, the flight leaves Perth at 22:20 for the longer sector up to Rome, landing there at 08:45 the following day after 16 and a half hours in the air. The return flight, QF6, departs Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport at 10:50 every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The 15 hour and 45 minute flight lands in Perth at 08:35 the following day. After 90 minutes on the ground, QF6 takes off for Sydney at 10:05, landing there four hours later at 16:05. Qantas will deploy its long-haul workhorse, the Boeing 787-9, on the route. The aircraft carries 236 passengers including 166 passengers in economy class, 28 passengers in premium economy, and 42 passengers in business class. Qantas rekindles its links with Italy Qantas has a history with Rome, flying there continuously between 1948 and 2003. The cessation of flights to Rome broadly coincided with Qantas ending flights to several European destinations. Alitalia also once flew between Australia and Italy but ended regular flights in 1998. Since then, travelers flying between Australia and Italy have had to connect in cities like Singapore or Dubai. This is despite significant numbers of travelers flying between the two countries. “Italy is the largest market for us in continental Europe for people visiting family and friends from Australia, the Rome flights will also give passengers another option for reaching onward destinations across the Mediterranean and southern Europe through Qantas’ network of partners." -Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on Wednesday. The Rome flights will complement Qantas’ Melbourne – Perth – London flights. These flights are slated to be running twice a day by mid-2022. It is also a win for Perth Airport after temporarily losing its stopover status to Darwin over the southern summer flying season. However, by mid-2022, Perth Airport will once again become the only Australian city offering nonstop flights to both the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Perth Airport back on the radar International numbers have fallen by 97% at Perth Airport since the onset of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brown was relatively downbeat when he spoke to The Australian Financial Review about the prospects of international airline activity significantly picking up there in the short to medium term. His comments to the newspaper also suggested he wasn’t expecting any new international routes anytime soon. That might have been a canny throw off or it might have been the truth. Either way, Wednesday morning’s announcement from Qantas is helping put Perth back on the map.

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DESIGN AND ENGINEERING

ZEVA Successfully Completes Historic First Test Flight

ZEVA | January 15, 2022

ZEVA, a pioneer in zero-emission electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft transportation, successfully achieved its first untethered, powered, controlled flight test for its full-scale ZEVA ZERO flying wing airframe utilizing its eight zero-emission electric motor-driven propellers. The major milestone for the Tacoma-based startup was captured in this new video in rural Pierce County, Washington, on Sunday, January 9th, 2022 as part of its rigorous test program to achieve FAA airworthiness certification. The uncrewed ZEVA demonstration aircraft completed four flights, totaling more than four minutes of controlled hovering, simulated taxiing maneuvers at slow speeds, and limited vertical climb maneuvers. Its compact airframe is designed for a single pilot and is small enough to fit in a standard automobile parking space. The vehicle is projected to cruise at speeds of up to 160 mph with a range of up to 50 miles, optimizing point-to-point travel. “This is a huge inflection point for ZEVA as we join an exclusive set of proven flying eVTOL platforms, and a testament to the relentless hard work and ingenuity of our entire team over the past two and half years, We are dissecting our learnings from our critical first taxiing flight, which is a direct result of the support we’ve received from our investors and community, leading us to bring in additional talent to spearhead this historic moment. We are eager to continue to our next stage of hover flight testing on our road to certification and eventual autonomous flight allowing anyone, not just pilots, to access zero-emission point-to-point travel.” -Stephen Tibbitts, CEO and Chairman of ZEVA. ZEVA experienced tremendous growth this year, with the addition of Gus Meyer as flight control engineer and several other key hires. The team completed more than 50 successful tethered flights, showcased the ZEVA ZERO aircraft at the Dubai Air Show in November, and was awarded a grant by Washington’s Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI) to work with Washington State University on ZEVA Aero’s aerodynamic configurations to optimize the vehicle’s thrust and controls. ZEVA has also worked with NASA in conjunction with its Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge. ZEVA will continue hover flight tests and advance to transition flight testing this spring to fine-tune the unique Superman-like trajectory of the aircraft design. The patent-pending design is expected to be available for pre-order for consumers for a $5,000 deposit as early as spring of this year, with an eventual price tag for the first production units estimated at under $250,000. About ZEVA ZEVA is bringing personal air transportation to everyone with an affordable, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft called the ZERO. The Tacoma, Washington startup launched in 2017. ZEVA’s founding team delivers decades of experience leading teams of engineers and managing multi-million dollar R&D budgets to develop and mass-produce electronics at both start-ups and multinational corporations.

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BUSINESS AVIATION

Jean-Marc Lemaitre Joins SkyThread as EVP-Customer Success

SkyThread | January 18, 2022

Jean-Marc Lemaitre has been named Executive Vice President of Customer Success for SkyThread, a blockchain-enabled data-network company providing error-free exchange of data among commercial aviation stakeholders. "Jean-Marc is a proven leader with extensive experience in the aviation aftermarket and has served in a variety of roles with original equipment manufacturers, He has a great deal of credibility and a reputation for integrity, traits essential for stakeholder trust and confidence, and compatible with the values of the SkyThread team." -Mark Roboff, Chief Executive Officer of SkyThread. Lemaitre said digital transformation in the aerospace industry currently is focused primarily on analytics, thus overlooking a key area of improvement that is SkyThread's focus. "That key area is the ability to rapidly record error-free aviation transactions, which is a far more fruitful pursuit, As the industry struggles to streamline transactions and unleash more than $30 billion in unrealized value, accelerating error-free data exchange among all participants is key to customer success," he said. "I look forward to helping customers streamline transaction processes and accelerate our industry's necessary digital transformation without additional capital investment." -Jean-Marc Lemaitre About SkyThread SkyThread is a blockchain-enabled data network provider focused on empowering commercial aviation stakeholders to unleash more than $30 billion in value by rapidly accelerating error-free data exchange among participants. The company has developed a trustworthy, federated system of record coupled with industry-leading validation logic that makes data permanent and unchangeable. We call this authenticating "Data for the Life of the Aircraft." The system is compatible with existing legacy IT systems and requires no capital investment from aviation stakeholders such as airlines, lessors, airplane manufacturers, regulators, and suppliers. SkyThread's intent is for the data exchange's rules to be governed by an independent, consensus-driven, and neutral consortium comprised of diverse industry stakeholders, in which SkyThread plans to be a supplier member.

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