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Cathie Wood Pours Millions Into The Air Taxi Industry

In the race to electrify transportation, the skies are the next frontier. Electric airplanes may sound futuristic, but the industry is gaining its wings thanks to innovative technology and hefty investments. Billionaire investor Cathie Wood sees air taxis as the next big thing.  Ark Invest holds approximately $20 million in Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY). Wood has also continued to acquire Archer Aviation (NYSE:ACHR) shares, which are currently valued at $134 million. These two startups aren’t the only companies making waves in the electric aviation space, which is projected to reach $37.2 billion by 2030. Blade Air Mobility (NASDAQ:BLDE) and Lilium N.V. (NASDAQ:LILM) are developing nascent electric aircraft models, while Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM) is taking a streamlined approach to electric aircraft development. 

American aviation company Surf Air Mobility (NYSE:SRFM), the largest commuter airline in the US based on scheduled departures, is focused on upgrading the widely popular Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with fully electric and hybrid-electric engines for passenger air travel. 

Unlike its counterparts, Surf Air Mobility already has a network of aircraft having flown more than 450,000 passengers on ~75,000 flights to 48 destinations in the US in 2022. With a management team boasting extensive experience and expertise in aviation, electrification, and consumer technology, the company is poised to lead the way in transforming the future of air travel.

Following the acquisition of Southern Airways and a strategic relationship with Textron Aviation, the creator of the Cessna Grand Caravan, Surf Air Mobility has hit the ground running. 

On February 13, Surf Air Mobility announced a collaboration with next-gen aerospace company Inc. This partnership aims to make sustainable air mobility more accessible by utilizing Electra’s hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft within Surf Air’s tech-based on-demand air mobility service and its Aircraft-as-a-Service (ACaaS) offering.

Surf Air Mobility’s development of electrified Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, supported by Textron Aviation, will be pivotal in bringing eco-friendly air travel to a global audience. Electra’s eSTOL aircraft, designed for short takeoff and landing, aligns perfectly with Surf Air‘s mission, leveraging its platform to enhance launch efficiency and regional mobility. 

Surf Air Mobility also recently unveiled a partnership with Z.Boskovic Air Charters, a prominent figure in Kenya’s private charters, safari, freight, and corporate travel scene. The collaboration entails upgrading Z.Boskovic’s existing and forthcoming fleet of Cessna Caravans with Surf Air‘s exclusive electrified powertrain technology once certified. With Z.Boskovic’s current fleet of 13 Cessna Caravans already operational, the company plans to bolster its fleet with two additional Caravan aircraft by the end of 2024, solidifying its status as Kenya’s largest charter operator of Cessna Caravans.

Two weeks earlier, the company announced a similar supply agreement with Safarilink, an airline connecting domestic scheduled flights to destinations within Kenya and Tanzania, and Yellow Wings Air Services, a Kenyan air operator that serves over 500 airfields throughout the East Africa region.

The deal will see Surf Air Mobility upgrade existing Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft in Africa with its proprietary electrified powertrain technology once certified, marking a significant milestone to expand its global footprint. 

The company also gained a stake in South America’s air taxi market through an agreement with Azul, the largest airline in Brazil, to electrify its existing fleet of 27 Cessna Caravans once Surf Air’s powertrain technology is certified.

Surf Air Mobility is dedicated to developing electrified powertrains with targets that compare to the performance of combustion Caravan engines, with the potential for further enhancements as battery technology evolves. The company aims to streamline the adoption process for operators, providing upgrades at a comparable cost to regular engine overhauls.

Surf Air Mobility’s first generation fully-electric powertrain technology is targeted to reduce direct operating costs by as much as 50% and eliminate 100% of direct carbon emissions.

For more information about Surf Air Mobility (NYSE:SRFM), click here.

Electric Aviation Startups Ink Strategic Partnerships 

On February 11, Joby Aviation, Inc. (NYSE:JOBY) secured a major deal with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to launch air taxi services in the Emirate by early 2026, with initial operations slated for 2025. Signed during the World Governments Summit in Dubai, this exclusive agreement grants Joby Aviation exclusive rights to operate air taxis in Dubai for a duration of six years, positioning the city as a frontrunner in sustainable and efficient air travel. With robust support from the RTA, including financial backing, Joby is poised to establish and expand its service operations seamlessly within Dubai.

Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE:ACHR) and Atlantic Aviation have signed an MOU to establish electric aircraft operation sites in LA, NYC, Northern California, and South Florida. They aim to electrify Atlantic Aviation’s assets to support future electric aircraft operations, including Archer’s Midnight air taxi. Leveraging their relationship with BETA Technologies, they plan to install BETA’s rapid recharging systems, utilizing the Combined Charging System endorsed by GAMA. Services are expected to launch in 2025 across these locations, with expansion to other sites as Archer’s aircraft availability increases. Together, they aim to lead the electric aircraft infrastructure industry, offering premium experiences for customers.

Blade Air Mobility (NASDAQ:BLDE) and Eve Air Mobility announced last year an extension of their partnership at the 54th International Paris Air Show through a memorandum of understanding (MoU). This collaboration aims to revolutionize air transportation in Europe, starting with France, by integrating Eve’s cutting-edge electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) into Blade’s European route network. The partnership between Eve and Blade demonstrates their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and progress within the AAM industry. While the deployment of Eve’s eVTOLs in Europe is contingent on regulatory approvals and certification, this collaboration signifies a significant step towards realizing their shared goal of revolutionizing air travel.

Lilium N.V. (NASDAQ:LILM) has partnered with DENSO, a Fortune 500 leader in mobility technology, to optimize production of its all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet engine. DENSO, renowned for powertrain electrification, will assist Lilium in developing efficient manufacturing processes and automation for high-volume production. Leveraging its expertise, DENSO will contribute to scaling up production of the Lilium Jet engine. With extensive experience in supplying automotive parts, DENSO aims to design reliable manufacturing processes. Currently, DENSO supplies the Lilium Jet engine’s stator and rotor subsystems through its collaboration with Honeywell, a tier-one aerospace supplier.

Earlier this year, Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE: SRFM) partnered with Safarilink and Yellow Wings Air Services Ltd. to upgrade Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with Surf Air’s electric powertrain tech once certified. This collaboration expands Surf Air‘s global reach, spearheading the shift to green aviation, particularly in regions like Africa.

For more information about Surf Air Mobility (NYSE:SRFM), click here.

Featured Image @ FreePik


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