Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit is a leading supplier of aerostructures including fuselage and wing components for commercial and defense aircraft. ASX CEO and co-founder Jon Rimanelli said the new partnership will leverage not only Spirit’s design and manufacturing expertise, but also its deep knowledge of Federal Aviation Administration certification.
By working with Spirit, the Detroit, Michigan-based startup “aims to converge automotive mass production techniques with the reliability of commercial-grade aerospace,” ASX said. The cooperation will launch with engineering services, followed by parts fabrication and, finally, systems integration supporting the launch of the all-electric MOBi-One.
“We look forward to working with ASX, an early pioneer in the emerging urban air mobility market,” stated Keith Hamilton, Spirit’s executive director for programs and business development, in a press release. “Spirit is actively developing new concepts, designs, and solutions that will help build next-generation aircraft and solve challenges in the future. This collaboration gives Spirit the opportunity to bring our world-class capabilities to this important future market for logistics and personal transportation.”
MOBi-One is a tilt-wing eVTOL concept that can be developed as a fully electric or hybrid aircraft, “depending on what our customer base would like to see in the future,” according to ASX co-founder Anita Sengupta.
In either case, she told eVTOL.com, “tilt-wing gives you great performance in cruise which increases payload capacity and range. It also simplifies the design in terms of number of moving parts.”
She said the company has tested up to one-third geometric scale models so far, and is in the process of building a full-scale, fully electric “mule” for flight control demonstrations. ASX is also starting work on its “block zero” full-scale model for engineering development purposes, which will likewise be fully electric.
Meanwhile, ASX will tap Spirit’s expertise as it develops the full requirements database for the aircraft. That will include, “from the structural side of things, generating what those load cases need to be, both from an aerodynamic perspective, a failure mode perspective, and from an FAA certification perspective. And I think that’s where [Spirit has] a great deal of expertise, because it’s what they do for a living,” Sengupta said.
ASX’s ultimate goal is “to deliver simple, safe, and robust electric VTOL aircraft that are accessible to the mass traveling public.” The company said it will be launching a Series A funding round in March 2020.
This article has been updated with additional comments from ASX.