Ascendance Flight Technologies announced that it has secured €10 million (around US$11.7 million) in funding, which will allow the company to significantly expand its product development capabilities.
The Toulouse, France-based company reports that its investors include Habert Dassault Finance, Celeste Management, M Capital, Kima Ventures, and IRDI, as well as other unspecified “senior leaders from the industry and international entrepreneurs.”
The funding will accelerate Ascendance’s development of Atea, a vertical take-off and landing aircraft powered by Sterna, its proprietary hybrid-electric technology stack. Named for the French Polynesian deity of sky and space, Atea is envisioned as a VTOL aircraft with short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities under certain circumstances, positioned for regional as well as urban air mobility missions. Atea will initially be introduced as a piloted aircraft, with plans for an autonomous version after 2030.
Ascendance was founded in 2018 by four former members of the Airbus E-Fan program team, which achieved the first all-electric two-engine flight over the English Channel. Recognizing what they described as the limitations of all-battery electric aviation for commercial aircraft operations, the colleagues formed Ascendance to pursue hybrid-electric propulsion alternatives.
The funding announcement follows on the heels of Ascendance’s naming of a board of directors which includes former Safran chairman Jean-Paul Herteman; former executive committee member at Renault, Jean-Christophe Kugler; and the former head of the Airbus E-Aircraft program, Agnès Plagneux-Bertrand.
Jean-Christophe Lambert, Ascendance’s co-founder and CEO, said: “This successful round of funding will allow us to focus on full-scale prototypes and patents in order to accelerate the development and industrialization of our technologies and products. We will also continue to recruit the best talents to shape a team that will impact tomorrow’s clean aviation.
“So far, we are on schedule in the development of our disruptive hybrid-electric technologies. Recent technological achievements, our endorsement by renowned industrial figures such as our board members and Robert Lafontan, the signing of a longtime partnership with Capgemini Engineering, and successful testing campaigns confirms that the company is on the right track.”
The first public flights of Atea are scheduled during the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 as part of the Choose Paris Region initiative for UAM.