Swiss eVTOL startup Dufour Aerospace has secured an undisclosed amount of additional funding as it prepares to launch the build of its hybrid-electric, tilt-wing aEro 3 prototype later this year.
The funding round was led by session.vc, an early stage venture fund founded by Martin Altorfer and Philippe Bubb, with existing investors also contributing. According to Bubb, session.vc has been following Dufour’s progress for more than two years, and is “excited by the company’s development.”
“Dufour Aerospace is electrifying a proven aerodynamic concept with existing battery technology,” Bubb stated in a press release. “With the aEro 3 it can cover around 80 percent of the areas of application for which helicopters are used today and thus addresses a multi-billion-dollar market with sustainable technology.”
Dufour Aerospace is led by CEO Thomas Pfammatter — who is also a professional helicopter rescue pilot for Swiss operator Air Zermatt — along with co-founder Dominique Steffen and co-founder and chief technology officer Jasmine Kent. Pfammatter and Steffen previously collaborated on the aEro 1 electric aerobatic airplane.
Last July, Dufour attracted considerable attention when it released video of its large-scale tilt-wing eVTOL demonstrator performing uncrewed flight testing, including full transitions between hovering and wing-borne cruise flight. The company said it has performed more than 600 flights of the demonstrator, which has a wingspan of around four-and-a-half meters.
In October, it released additional video footage of the demonstrator including sound — making it one of just a handful of eVTOL developers that have shared audio of their prototypes.
Now, Dufour is progressing with development of the aEro 3, a piloted tilt-wing aircraft for medical transport and regional air mobility missions with a hybrid range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Kent told eVTOL.com that Dufour plans to start construction of the aEro 3 prototype at the end of this year and begin flight testing in 2022. In the meantime, the company has been refining avionics and flight control laws using its in-house simulation platform, which will be further developed to serve as a pilot training tool.
Dufour is aiming to complete certification of the aircraft and go to market around 2026.
“The versatility of the hybrid propulsion system allows us to address large already existing markets, such as the enormous market for emergency medical services, which is currently served by helicopters and ambulances,” Pfammatter stated in the press release.
“Our tilt-wing aircraft models with hybrid propulsion are not only resource-efficient, but also significantly quieter than current deployed helicopters. We are thus creating decisive advantages for use in urban air mobility. With the further development of our prototype, we want to push these advantages further and thus open up numerous other possible applications.”