Spirit Teams Up With eVTOL Startup ASX

Credit: Aerion

Having placed a bet on the return of supersonic air travel by becoming a supplier on Aerion’s AS2 business jet, aerostructures specialist Spirit AeroSystems is putting down a marker on the emerging urban air mobility (UAM) industry.

U.S. startup Airspace Exploration Technologies (ASX) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and a definitive agreement with Spirit “to cooperate on creation of affordable, certified all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing [eVTOL] aircraft.”

Detroit-based ASX is developing the MOBi-One, a tilt-wing eVTOL designed to carry four passengers and a pilot, or 1,100 lb. of cargo 65 mi. at a cruise speed of 150 mph. ASX plans to launch a Series A funding round in March with the goal of launching cargo service in 2023 and passenger service by 2024.

“The program aims to converge automotive mass production techniques with the reliability of commercial-grade aerospace,” ASX says, with Spirit providing expertise in certified carbon-fiber airframe structures. 

Spirit produces composite fuselage sections for the Boeing 787, manufactured the composite fuselage for Bell’s V-280 tiltrotor demonstrator and is designing the composite forward fuselage for Aerion’s supersonic business jet.

Other aerostructures companies are also eyeing the UAM market, with its potential for production volumes far higher than traditional aircraft markets. In 2018, Austria’s FAAC entered a strategic partnership with Chinese eVTOL developer EHang to prepare its vehicles for production.

In June 2019, U.S. UAM startup Jaunt Air Mobility signed an MoU with Triumph Group’s Aerospace Structures unit to provide engineering services in support of its eVTOL air taxi concept, the reduced rotor operating speed aircraft. Jaunt is a vehicle partner in Uber’s Elevate aerial ridesharing initiative.

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.