Defense and Space

Vertical Aerospace and Molicel Partner to Power the VX4

Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace a global aerospace and technology company that is pioneering zero emissions aviation, today announces a strategic partnership with E-One Moli Energy Corp a leading manufacturer of lithium-ion cells, to supply high power cylindrical cells for Vertical’s VX4 eVTOL aircraft.

With today’s announcement, Vertical has now secured the supply of market leading battery cells to develop the VX4 through to certification and entry into service, working with Molicel to increase supply as the VX4 is brought into mass production. Vertical reviewed the capabilities of dozens of cell manufacturers before selecting Molicel as its battery partner as it believes Molicel is uniquely placed to meet the performance and safety requirements of the VX4 and to continue to deliver innovation and improved performance over time.

With more than 40 years’ experience in energy research and development, Molicel has established itself as one of the world’s leading supplier of high-power battery cells. Specialising in high power, low impedance and fast charge, Molicel deliberately focuses on demanding, high-performance applications of its batteries, with its technology already in use across space, advanced automotive and power tool applications. Partners include NASA and William’s Advanced Engineering.

Battery cells, and the wider battery system, are critical components for the safety, performance and economics of the VX4.

Safety – Safe flight is a non-negotiable and critical for our aircraft. Part of Vertical’s certification compliance journey is proving the management of thermal runaway events and Molicel’s high power cylindrical cell format is key this.

Performance – The VX4 needs high-performance cells to enable the range and payload Vertical’s customers demand. Molicel have the highest power and energy cylindrical cell in the world.

Economics – The VX4 battery system needs to be economic both as a component of the product and in second-life applications. Molicel will help optimise the life cycle of the battery cell for eVTOL as well as other second-life applications.

Vertical and Molicel have established a joint working group to ensure the battery cells result in a system for the VX4 that is a safe, reliable and high-performance. The battery system will be certified concurrently with the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority with Vertical targeting 2025 for entry into service.

In addition to their existing production annual capacity in Taipei, Molicel will open their second Gigafactory in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2023. The advanced manufacturing technology at these new plants will not only enable mass production of cells for Vertical Aerospace, but its cell traceability approach will guarantee the consistency and quality required to meet aerospace standards.

The future of electric aviation is dependent on safe, high-performance battery systems and fundamental to this is the battery cells themselves. That’s why I am delighted to be partnering with Molicel, producer of the world’s highest power cells. Molicel has a rich history of innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in energy storage. We see many similarities between ourselves and Molicel and we couldn’t think of a better partner to bring the VX4 to market.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder & CEO, Vertical Aerospace

Dr Limhi Somerville, Head of Battery, Vertical Aerospace said “It has been a privilege to work alongside the excellent Molicel team in testing, evaluating and analysing their lithium-ion cells. Both here and in Taiwan. Through years of development their low resistance, high-power cells give us additional weight saving, charging and safety opportunities for the VX4 with minimal compromise to energy and lifetime. We look forward to working with them for many years to come in enabling certified propulsion battery systems in aerospace.”

Casey Shiue, President, E-One Moli Energy Corp said “We have long been known as the pioneers of high power, low impedance, fast charge battery cell technology and have vast experience across a range of applications. We are on a mission to produce outstanding cells to drive the electric evolution and are very excited to enter this strategic partnership with Vertical Aerospace. We work with some of the best engineers in the world and have been immensely impressed by Vertical’s technical and engineering pedigree. We see our technology is a key enabler of safe and efficient flight, and we look forward to working with Vertical Aerospace to bring their revolutionary VX4 aircraft to the skies.”

About Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace is a leading British electric vertical takeoff and landing manufacturer pioneering the transition to carbon free aviation, focused on designing, manufacturing and selling one of the world’s best zero operating emission eVTOL aircraft for use in the advanced air mobility market, using the most cutting-edge technology from the aerospace, automotive and energy industries. Since its inception in 2016, Vertical has focused on building one of the most experienced and senior teams in the eVTOL industry, who between them have decades of engineering experience and have certified and supported over 30 different civil and military aircraft and propulsion systems.

Vertical’s top-tier partner ecosystem is expected to support operational execution and Vertical believes its pathway to certification will allow for a lean cost structure and enable production at scale. Vertical has received conditional pre-orders for a total of up to 1,350 aircraft from American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet, which includes conditional pre-order options from Virgin Atlantic and Marubeni, and in doing so, is creating multiple potential near term and actionable routes to market.

About the VX4 eVTOL Aircraft
The VX4 is projected to be capable of transporting a pilot and up to four passengers, traveling distances of over 100 miles, and achieving top speeds of over 200 miles per hour, while producing minimal noise and zero operating emissions. The VX4 is expected to open up advanced air mobility to a whole new range of passengers and transform how we travel. 

About MOLICEL
With over 40 years’ rechargeable lithium-ion knowhow and innovative technology research and development, MOLICEL® is famous for excellent power density product which presents high discharge and fast charge capability balanced with good energy density. The company has been recognized as first choice for world leading makers in applications such as sports car/motorcycle, VTOL, aerospace and heavy-duty tools.

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Business Wire | September 14, 2023

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Aviation Technology

Wheels Up Finalizes New Investment with Delta, Certares, Knighthead and Cox

Wheels Up | September 26, 2023

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Aviation Technology

Allegiant secures financing for airbus a320 ceo and boeing 737 max aircraft

PR Newswire | October 05, 2023

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Aviation Technology

Joby Delivers First eVTOL Aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base Ahead of Schedule

Joby | September 28, 2023

Joby Aviation, Inc, a company developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for commercial passenger service, today announced it has delivered its first aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base approximately six months ahead of the expected 2024 delivery date. On-base operations with Joby aircraft will be used to demonstrate a range of logistics missions, including cargo and passenger transportation, and will be operated by both Joby and U.S. Air Force personnel. In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, NASA will also use the aircraft for research focused on how these aircraft could fit into the national airspace, benefiting the entire air taxi industry. Joby’s aircraft, which has already begun flying at Edwards AFB, is the first electric air taxi to be stationed on a U.S. military base and is believed to be the first delivery of an electric air taxi in the U.S., as part of Joby’s $131 million AFWERX Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force. 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On-base operations will also include the training of Air Force pilots and aircraft maintenance crews, which will provide the DOD with valuable insight into the performance of eVTOL aircraft and will give Joby on-the-ground operational and training experience as the company prepares for the launch of commercial passenger service in 2025. “We’re proud to join the ranks of revolutionary aircraft that first demonstrated their capabilities at Edwards Air Force Base, including the first American jet fighter, the first supersonic aircraft, and many others that have pushed the boundaries of aviation technology,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby. “The longstanding support of the DOD and NASA has been critical to the rapid development of electric aviation and eVTOL aircraft, and demonstrates how successful public-private partnerships can bring new technology to life at speed. Their work will have profound implications for continued American leadership in both commercial and defense aerospace technology,” he added. Joby’s partnership with the DOD dates back to its 2016 engagement with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), which granted the company early funding as well as access to test ranges and expertise that have aided its aircraft development program. “Agility Prime’s stated objective in 2020 was to work towards an operational capability for transformative vertical lift in the DoD by 2023. The arrival of Joby’s aircraft at Edwards AFB is an important step towards achieving this objective,” said Col Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force. “The delivery of this first eVTOL aircraft is the start of a new chapter in Edwards’ rich aerospace history,” notes Maj Phillip Woodhull, director, Emerging Technologies Integrated Test Force. “This partners private industry with the 412th Test Wing’s world-renowned test management execution. We are excited to agilely test, experiment with, and evaluate this new technology for potential future national defense applications.” In partnership with the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program, NASA will also be supporting this testing at Edwards Air Force Base with NASA’s pilots, researchers, and equipment as part of their commitment to advancing the Advanced Air Mobility industry as a whole, for the benefit of all. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is located on Edwards Air Force Base, and has a long history of supporting important technological milestones in aviation and space – supersonic and hypersonic flight, digital fly-by-wire control systems, and the space shuttles. “NASA’s participation in the Joby and AFWERX project will provide our researchers with hands-on experience with a representative eVTOL vehicle, concentrated on how these types of aircraft could fit into the national airspace for everyday use, that will inform NASA’s effort in supporting the entire eVTOL industry,” said NASA research pilot Wayne Ringelberg. “The research will include a focus on handling qualities evaluation tools, autonomy, and airspace integration, which is all needed research to push the industry forward.” Over the past year, the U.S. Air Force and Marines have made multiple visits to Joby’s manufacturing and flight test facilities in Marina, CA. Four U.S. Air Force pilots completed full remotely-piloted transition flights of the Joby aircraft in April, and two groups of Marines visited in May to conduct mission analysis regarding potential logistics and medical applications of the aircraft. With a range of up to 100 miles plus energy reserves and a top speed of 200 mph, the Joby aircraft is capable of transporting a pilot and four passengers quickly and quietly with zero operating emissions. The delivery will be celebrated at an event held this morning at 10:00am PT at Edwards Air Force Base. The event can be watched live via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qVLQsz_YJc. Media assets, including photos and videos of the Joby aircraft in flight, are available here. About Joby 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. About AFRL The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. About AFWERX The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability.

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