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 | 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.
Businesswire | August 07, 2023
Archer Aviation Inc. a leader in electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, today announced that it has significantly expanded its partnership with the DoD by signing new contracts with the U.S. Air Force with a total value of up to $142 million. The new contracts signal the U.S. military's recognition of the transformative potential Archer’s innovative eVTOL aircraft brings to our country’s Armed Forces. This new execution phase of the partnership includes the delivery of up to six of Archer’s Midnight aircraft to the Air Force, the sharing of additional flight test data and certification related test reports, pilot training, and the development of maintenance and repair operations. As a result of these contracts, Archer will create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.
Archer has been partnering with the DoD since 2021 on a series of projects through the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program with the goal of helping the AFWERX Agility Prime program assess the transformational potential of the vertical flight market and eVTOL technologies for DoD purposes. Now, with Archer recently completing the manufacturing of its first Midnight aircraft, the DoD recognizes that with its vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, target payload of approximately 1,000lbs, proprietary electric powertrain system, and low noise profile, Archer’s aircraft represents a potential paradigm shift in military aviation and operations. These aircraft hold the promise of enhancing rapid response, agility, and operational effectiveness across a wide range of mission profiles, from personnel transport and logistics support to rescue operations and more. Archer’s Midnight aircraft are expected to provide a much safer and quieter alternative to helicopters while being more cost-effective for the U.S. military to transport, operate and maintain in the field.
“This historic agreement reflects the steadfast commitment by our Armed Forces to embrace the cutting-edge technology our eVTOL aircraft offer,” said Adam Goldstein, Archer’s Founder and CEO. “It’s clear that the development and commercialization of eVTOL technology continues to remain a national priority. We look forward to working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to integrate Midnight into their operational fleet with a focus on transport, logistics and rescue operations.”
“It is our mission to ensure the U.S. continues to lead the world in developing and deploying emerging aerospace technology,” said Colonel Tom Meagher, the lead for AFWERX Agility Prime programs. “eVTOL aircraft represent the cusp of the third revolution in aerospace, and these aircraft and their descendants will drive advances in capabilities and efficiency. Our contracts with Archer Aviation provide the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force the opportunity to play a role in ensuring from the onset, and as the technology evolves, that we unlock the many benefits these aircraft have to offer the U.S. military.”
“As a retired senior military leader who was responsible for U.S. forces, operations and activities throughout the continent of Africa, I’m thrilled with this agreement and its potential impact on the capabilities of our Armed Forces,” said Retired 4-Star General and Archer Government Services Advisory Board Member, Steve Townsend. “The United States has always been at the forefront of technological innovation, and this partnership demonstrates our nation’s commitment to maintain that position. I commend the visionary leadership at DoD which led to this contract and Archer's dedication to pushing the boundaries of aviation technology.”
This announcement comes on the heels of Archer announcing the formation of the company’s Government Services Advisory Board in May. The goal of the advisory board is to allow Archer to more fully engage with U.S. government and public safety agencies to explore opportunities to commercialize its eVTOL aircraft. The members of this advisory board are assisting and facilitating Archer’s direct engagement with appropriate government agencies and officials to advance both consideration and implementation of Archer’s eVTOL aircraft and related technologies. The board includes Retired 4-star General Steve Townsend, Retired 3-star Lieutenant General David A. Krumm, Retired 3-star Vice Admiral Ron Boxall, Retired 2-star General Clayton M. Hutmacher, Retired 2-star General Bill Gayler, and Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Durant.
“The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.”
Archer is designing and developing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for use in urban air mobility networks. Archer’s mission is to unlock the skies, freeing everyone to reimagine how they move and spend time. Archer's team is based in Santa Clara, CA. About Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Sole organization leading the planning and execution of U.S. Air Force & U.S. Space Force science & technology programs. Orchestrates a world-wide government, industry & academia coalition in the discovery, development & delivery of a wide range of revolutionary technology. Provides leading-edge warfighting capabilities keeping air, space and cyberspace forces the world's best. Employs 10,800 military, civilian and contractor personnel at 17 research sites executing an annual $4B budget.
The innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force (DAF) and a directorate within AFRL. Brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs 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.
PRnewswire | July 26, 2023
Iridium Communications Inc. a leading provider of global voice and data satellite communications, today announced the introduction of its Iridium Certus® aviation commercial service, providing a secure cockpit domain with reliable voice and data capabilities. This milestone achievement marks the availability and certification of Iridium Connected® aviation solutions for commercial transport aircraft, business aviation, helicopters, private aircraft, and Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) that offer more compact, cost-effective equipment with superior coverage compared to alternative systems.
Using L-band satellite frequencies that are superior for cockpit communications, Iridium Certus for aviation is an ideal complement to commercial transport passenger cabin connectivity Ka/Ku band services and can be a primary service for small-to-mid-size business jet cabins. It would also be preferred to HF/VHF for electronic flight bag (EFB), flight critical data, and passenger communications during oceanic flights.
Iridium's partners are introducing a range of multi-tier Iridium Certus solutions that complement other in-flight connectivity (IFC) systems installed on aircraft. Multiple Iridium Value Added Manufacturers (VAMs) and Value-Added Resellers (VARs) are providing a spectrum of Iridium Certus 100 and Iridium Certus 700 solutions. Safety certifications are currently in progress, with flight trials expected to begin by the end of 2023 and approvals expected in 2024, making it a valuable short-term and long-term investment for aircraft operators.
"The aviation industry is forecasting a period of unprecedented growth, where reliable connectivity has become crucial for both passenger and cockpit communications," said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. "Iridium Certus perfectly fits these applications due to the combination of its Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) as well as the outstanding reliability of our global network. With our upgraded constellation, we have significantly improved and expanded our offerings, delivering air traffic control services, weather, and critical information to cockpits worldwide more affordably than ever before."
With its unique satellite network in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO), Iridium offers weather-resilient L-band connectivity and unparalleled global coverage versus geostationary (GEO) systems. The flexibility of Iridium Certus service to scale device SWaP requirements both up and down allows users to cater to various mission needs, offering different price points and versatility for diverse aircraft types and operational requirements. Iridium Certus also makes it affordable for aircraft operators to obtain real-time data from the cockpit, enabling better decision-making and improved operational efficiency.
"Iridium's first-generation voice and data solutions are installed on over 60,000 aircraft today and have been critical for flight safety and relied upon by pilots and airlines for years," said John Peterson, executive director of aviation, Iridium. "As the preferred solution for a wide range of aviation applications, from drones to airliners, Iridium Certus is ready to support the industry's evolving connectivity needs."
The success of Iridium Certus technology in maritime and land applications has paved the way for its entry into the aviation realm. With thousands of subscribers currently utilizing the Iridium Certus service, its deployment has been extensive and highly regarded. The aviation industry now benefits from the robust suite of solutions provided by Iridium Certus, supporting Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAV)/Urban Air Mobility (UAM), business jet cabin connectivity, and paving the way for future flight deck applications. Iridium and its ecosystem of partners are continually developing new offerings, with additional announcements and terminal launches planned for later this year.
About Iridium Communications Inc.
Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. In 2019, the company completed a generational upgrade of its satellite network and launched its specialty broadband service, Iridium Certus®. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and its common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol IRDM.