Helicopter ban sought by New York Councilman

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Lincoln Restler, the council member representing the Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint ward of New York’s city council has introduced legislation designed to reduce Helicopter traffic in the city’s East River corridor. The bill, which apparently has won support from Council members representing wards in New York’s Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx boroughs will seek to ban “non-essential” flights from city owned heliports. According to a tweet by Restler “There are approximately 4,000 non-essential helicopter flights over New York City monthly by Uber, Blade and tourism companies…it’s disruptive to our communities and bad for the environment”.

Complaints about aircraft noise are, of course, nothing new but they have risen significantly in recent years in line with traffic growth fuelled by ride sharing apps and other booking platforms.

If successful, the ban would not only hamper corporate and leisure traffic but would a significant impact on the business models of nascent eVTOL companies.

Overair secure $145m funding from Hanwha for Butterfly development

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Californian eVTOL developer Overair have announced a further funding package worth $145m from South Korea’s Hanwha Aerospace. The company says that this new investment will ensure that the Butterfly tilt rotor eVTOL will remain on track for its targeted first flight in the second half of next year.

Aside from the technical development funding Overair say that the investment package will allow it to “lay the groundwork for commercialising their mobility technology”. In addition to the cash investment Hanwha will also supply the electric motors and battery packs for the Butterfly prototypes.

Commenting on the announcement Ben Tigner, Co-Founder and CEO of Overair said “This is a tremendous milestone for our growing team, and we’re extremely well positioned to deliver sustainable aerial ridesharing to the world through the development of Butterfly. We’re exactly where we want to be, building a superior aircraft company with class leading mobility technology around an unrivalled aircraft while rapidly approaching the first flight of a purpose-built prototype next year.

Eve and Corporación América Airports plan to develop Urban Air Mobility solutions in Europe and Latin America

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Embraer subsidiary Eve and Corporación América Airports, the largest private-sector airport concession operator in the world by the number of airports,  Have announced the existence of a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) they signed in December of last year to design and integrate a service and support ecosystem for Urban Air Mobility (“UAM”) operations in Europe and Latin America.

The foundation of the project with be a pooling of the two company’s expertise to assess the market readiness of surface infrastructure for eVTOL operations. This will include an examination of operations at airports as well as studies of the regulatory environment.

“The next five years will probably be decisive in how we move from and through cities, and aviation will play a leading role again. Corporación América Airports has always been at the forefront of air transport services and now wants to be a key player in the UAM segment, identifying the challenges and opportunities for better operational, infrastructural and secure contexts. We want to lead the development of the UAM ecosystem, allowing mobility in the third dimension accessible to all, in a more sustainable transportation mode”, said Martin Eurnekian, CEO of Corporación América Airports.

Meanwhile, Andre Stein, co-CEO of Eve noted “The Urban Air Mobility ecosystem includes ground infrastructures and operations, airports, and integration of different transportation modes. The partnership with Corporación América Airports will allow us to create and implement these concepts, in line with regulatory authorities’ requirements, in different communities in Latin America and Europe supported by Corporación América Airports. Our dedication to enabling a global UAM ecosystem makes Eve a trusted partner in this collaboration”.

Constant Aviation enters rotor market

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Cleveland, Ohio based Constant Aviation has expanded its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities beyond its portfolio of business jets, commercial airliners and other fixed-wing aircraft to include rotorcraft including helicopters, drones and other Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). “We have striven to be at the forefront of aviation technology in all its forms, including servicing helicopters and emerging technologies such as Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” said David H. Davies, Constant Aviation’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our expansion into these sectors positions us well for the future, including our ability to serve even newer emerging technologies such as Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. We are fully staffed and equipped to service any private aircraft that can fly, from fixed-wing aircraft such as business jets to helicopters, drones and other rotorcraft.”

As part of this initiative, Constant is completely refurbishing the Sikorsky S-76 helicopters flown by Flexjet’s new private helicopter division. The interiors of each helicopter are being refurbished in Flexjet’s LXi custom cabin interiors, with the first being the “Phantom” interior theme. All veneers are being refinished and all soft goods (seats, carpets and side walls) are being restored with new materials rich with texture. The newly painted livery was designed by Constant Aviation to pay homage to Flexjet’s distinctive business jet liveries which include a chameleon paint with an added carbon fibre accent on the upper cowling and leading edge on the vertical tail. The private helicopter division refurbishments are being performed at Constant Aviation’s facility at Florida’s Orlando Sanford International Airport. “We are proud that Flexjet has chosen us to ensure that its private helicopters meet its exacting standards,” said Davies. “The refurbishment demonstrates how we have successfully expanded our offering to include providing maintenance, repair and overhaul services to helicopters and other rotorcraft.”

The company says its expansion into helicopter MRO services is a natural step in ensuring the company remains at the forefront of aviation maintenance needs across the full range of aircraft. It also prepares Constant Aviation for the next generation of rotorcraft that will require MRO services. The expertise developed with helicopters and other traditional rotorcraft systems strategically positions the company to serve emerging technology areas like UAS and eVTOLs, which employ similar engineering, materials and systems. “The aviation industry is evolving quickly, with new systems coming to the fore, especially in vertical flight and unmanned systems,” said Davies. “We want to be positioned as the leader in servicing these newer forms of flight and have been expanding our capabilities to offer them the same levels of skill, speed and quality that we have long provided to business jets and other fixed-wing aircraft.”

Phoenix 2 eVTOL demonstrator achieves wing borne flight

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In what it calls “a landmark moment for Lilium and for electric aviation as a whole”, the company has revealed that its Phoenix 2 demonstrator achieved transition to wing borne flight. According to the company it is the first ‘full size’ electric tilt thrust aircraft to make the move from hover to wing borne flight. Commenting, Matthias Meiner, Phoenix Chief Engineer and Lilium Co-Founder said: “Main wing transition is a huge step forward on our path to launch and it validates our flight dynamics model. Full credit goes to the outstanding team who worked so hard to get us here, and who remain laser-focused on the rest of the flight test campaign.”

Lilium plans to continue expanding the type’s flight envelope over the summer before making the move to testing a production conforming model in 2023 with EASA and FAA type certification targeted for 2025.