Private aviation company Surf Air Mobility announced it will be acquiring hybrid electric company Ampaire.
The deal puts Surf Air closer to its mission to deliver “sustainable aviation that’s accessible to everyone”, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Sudhin Shahani.
“With this advanced technology, we have the opportunity to solve aviation’s biggest problems – operating cost and environmental impact – through electrification. We see the near-term opportunity to transform existing turboprop aircraft across the entire industry as the first step to ultimately extend to fully electric aviation across all trip lengths,” he added.
Ampaire is creating hybrid electric powertrains for existing aircraft, such as the Cessna 377, with the focus on upgrading other nine- to 19-seat piston and turboprop aircraft.
CEO Kevin Noertker said: “It is our intention to be one of the first to make this technology available at scale on both existing and new commercial routes.”
Surf Air Mobility intends to make hybrid electric powertrain upgrades available to fleet owners on and off its consumer platform, as well as license its technology to OEMs for new aircraft types.
The Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) estimates that the global market opportunity for hybrid electric aircraft is estimated to grow to $178bn by 2040.
Surf Air’s president, Fred Reid said the company would be focusing on shorter, regional routes in the near term. “By improving the cost structure, we’re able to create a new kind of point-to-point network that opens up previously untenable markets with more direct connections. With half of all US flights 500 miles or less, hybrid electric technology will have an immediate and broad-reaching impact,” he said.
Ampaire has completed a month-long demonstration program of the first electric-powered flight on a commercial route with its Electric EEL, a hybrid electric Cessna 337 aircraft.
This is the first aircraft of this type to receive FAA experimental market survey approval, allowing the company to carry passengers other than flight crew. The deployment exemplified the performance benefits of hybrid electric systems, with 100% dispatch reliability and long endurance flights of more than 340 miles and durations up to three hours.
All Ampaire employees will be joining Surf Air and CEO Noertker will be president of a new division called AMP. Surf Air has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Ampaire. However, completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including approval of the Ampaire stockholders.