HAI Convention News

Jaunt's eVTOL Plans Boosted by LTTS Engineering Alliance

 - March 8, 2022, 8:33 AM
Jaunt's five-seat Journey eVTOL aircraft could operate air taxi flights in cities like Dallas. (Image: Jaunt Air Mobility)

While viewing itself as a key player in the promised advanced air mobility (AAM) revolution, Jaunt said it has deep roots in the rotorcraft industry and that’s what brought it back to Heli-Expo. The Texas-based company (Booth 6521) has reached a key waypoint in its plans to bring a family of eVTOL aircraft to market as it prepares to complete a merger with the Airo Group and expands its base of partners.

On Tuesday, it announced a new alliance with engineering services group L&T Technology Services (LTTS) to work on the development of the all-electric, five-seat Journey eVTOL that Jaunt aims to bring into commercial service by 2026. Jaunt is also working with VerdeGo Aero on a hybrid-electric version of the aircraft that would offer a range greater than the 70-mile limit of the initial model.

LTTS, which has more than a decade's experience working on various aerospace and defense programs, will support the Jaunt team in establishing new design and production facilities in the Montreal area. Jaunt has established a Canadian subsidiary and will now ramp up the recruitment of more engineers and other specialists.

"At Jaunt, our vision is to usher in a range of new-age aircraft-driven urban commuting that is fast, safe, and convenient," said CEO Martin Peryea. "This new clean, sustainable aircraft will reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Strategically, we are continuing to expand our Tier 1 partnerships and recognize LTTS as a best-fit engineering partner, and together we are confident of pushing the mass-scale commercialization."

BAE Systems is already closely involved in the project, with its input mainly focused on the battery and power management system, which Jaunt said is already exceeding projected performance specifications. Other partners already include aerostructures group Triumph and flight training organization CAE.

Jaunt anticipates the Journey being used for a variety of applications such as air-taxi services, freight deliveries, and emergency medical support. In tandem, the company is working under contract from the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program to meet its need for a new high-speed VTOL (HSVTOL) vehicle.

“There is quite a bit of overlap between these two aircraft systems, even though they have different airframes,” Peryea told AIN. “The battery-management and high-voltage systems could apply to the Air Force, too. They are counting on us to develop a commercial aircraft that could speed up their development time, and there are lots of synergies.”

The Jaunt eVTOL is based on the company’s patented slowed-rotor-compound technology, which slows the rotor tip speed to reduce drag and vibration. According to the company, the capability combined with a small wing sized for cruise flight produces a lift-to-drag ratio equivalent to that of a fixed-wing aircraft.

Jaunt intends to certify the aircraft under the FAA Part 29 rules for commercially operated rotorcraft. It is aiming to start flight testing a full-scale prototype by the end of next year.

The process of partnering with Airo Group—which already has a portfolio of AAM interests that also include drone manufacturing and operations, avionics, and robotics—has been time-consuming, but the Jaunt team now anticipates accelerating work on its eVTOLs. “We expect to be able to design the production aircraft coming out of the gate and we’ll be working on a full-scale pre-production aircraft from day one for type certification,” Peryea explained.

Airo Group already has an established revenue and customer base from the existing drone activities of subsidiaries, including Airo Drone, Agile Defense, Coastal Defense, Aironet, Sky-Watch, and Airgility. The group also includes avionics manufacturer Aspen, which will provide flight displays for the Jaunt aircraft, and UK-based VRCO, which plans to start flight-testing its four-seat XP4 eVTOL prototype this year.

Unlike several other leading eVTOL developers, Jaunt does not intend to directly operate its aircraft. Its business model will be based on selling vehicles to established operators while providing full customer and product support. This is one reason it is seeking a close relationship with the helicopter industry.

“Rotorcraft operators have told us they really like the configuration of our aircraft,” Peryea said. “The people best suited to operating eVTOL aircraft like ours are existing Part 135 helicopter operators, and we expect to see them expanding services to do things they can’t do today because of factors such as noise.”

In January, Brazilian on-demand charter flight broker Flapper committed to including 25 Journeys in its network. Under a letter of intent, the companies said they will work together to provide services in Latin American cities, among them Rio de Janeiro; Sao Paulo; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile; and Bogota, Colombia. Currently, Flapper brokers flights in business aircraft, including helicopters, with these being operated by a network of partners.

According to Eric Cote, president of Jaunt Air Mobility Canada, both the Canadian government and provincial officials in Quebec take a very positive view of eVTOLs. The former Bombardier executive said this sector is set to benefit from new funds being released to support the introduction of reduced carbon transportation options.

As Jaunt prepares to be a manufacturer, its engineering team is addressing the challenges of building eVTOL fuselages at the anticipated high rates of production. In particular, they are working with aerospace supplier Triumph Group to exploit breakthroughs in thermoplastic technologies to achieve low-cost, high-rate production of the fuselages. Peryea said fuselage production is more of a challenge than individual components.

On March 7, Jaunt announced the appointment of Yves Comeau as its vice president of finance. Like Cote, he is a former Bombardier Aerospace executive.