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Textron acquires Pipistrel to bolster new electric aviation division

Global aerospace company Textron has announced an agreement to purchase Pipistrel, the makers of the world’s first and only electric aircraft that has received full type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Textron Pipistrel
Pipistrel’s Velis Electro became the world’s first and only electric aircraft to receive full type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2020. Business Wire Image

The companies said the acquisition will allow the Pipistrel team to accelerate the development and certification of electric and hydrid-electric aircraft by tapping into Textron’s resources, technical and regulatory expertise, and a global aircraft sales and support network.

Textron announced yesterday that once the deal closes, Pipistrel will join the company’s new Textron eAviation business segment, focused on developing sustainable aircraft.

“Pipistrel puts Textron in a uniquely strong position to develop technologies for the sustainable aviation market, and develop a variety of new aircraft to meet a wide range of customer missions,” said Scott Donnelly, chair and CEO of Textron, adding this acquisition “supports Textron’s long-term strategy to offer a family of sustainable aircraft for urban air mobility, general aviation, cargo, and special mission roles.”

Known for its Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell aviation brands, the acquisition is one of the latest moves by the company in the electric aviation sector since Bell Flight told eVTOL.com that the company would be shifting away from its Nexus 4EX eVTOL aircraft to focus on other projects. The company is still conducting tests with NASA on its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 cargo drone.

Donnelly said he believes Pipistrel is one of the most successful manufacturers of electric aviation, and Textron intends to maintain that brand, along with its headquarters, research and development facility, and manufacturing site in Slovenia and Italy.

This latest announcement doesn’t reveal plans for future eVTOL aircraft, but Donnelly said the company does plan to make “additional investments in Pipistrel for the development and production of future products.”

Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel, will remain a minority shareholder, as well as chair emeritus, consulting on future product plans and strategies for a two-year period.

“Under my 30-year leadership, Pipistrel’s team has achieved a unique prime position in personal, affordable, environmentally friendly, and electric aviation,” said Boscarol, adding the business combination allows Pipistrel to access deep expertise and resources that would otherwise be inaccessible to Pipistrel.

“With Textron, we are together geared to strive for future growth and [we] look forward to announcing exciting new products and projects,” Boscarol said. “I am delighted to continue witnessing my vision become a reality by being actively engaged with the company for the future.”

Subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Along with the Pipistrel’s Velis Electro electric aircraft, the company also offers a family of gliders and light aircraft with both electric and combustion engines, and is currently developing a number of electric and hydrid-electric propulsion models.

The company had previously been working on the Pipistrel 801 eVTOL aircraft, but decided in 2019 to set that aircraft aside to work on the Nuuva series of hybrid-electric cargo drones.

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