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“Our eVTOL vehicles will integrate seamlessly into existing transit infrastructure”

David Rottblatt is Senior Director, Strategy & Commercialization, at Supernal

What is the latest progress/news on S-A2 eVTOL development?

The S-A2 program is on track to certify and deliver our aircraft in 2028, and we anticipate that our operators will begin their commercial operations in that same year. The next milestone is full-scale technology demonstrator flight at the end of this year.

S-A2 is designed to cruise at 120 mph at altitudes of 1,000-1,500 feet above ground level (AGL), with a range of up to 60 miles. It features modular battery components for future upgrades and a human-centric interior developed in collaboration with Hyundai Motor Group’s automotive designers.

Perhaps you could outline Supernal’s plans for launching and scaling in different geographic markets.

Supernal is committed to thoughtfully and responsibly integrating AAM into communities. We are focusing on ecosystem development, particularly in key home markets like Los Angeles and Seoul. By proactively laying the groundwork and collaborating with dedicated operators, we are working to ensure that our eVTOL vehicles integrate seamlessly into existing transit infrastructure. Our plans for launching and scaling in different geographic markets include comprehensive market research, strategic partnerships, and community engagement, ensuring a smooth and successful market entry.

Furthermore, we have bolstered our global expansion plans by forging MOUs with the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. These strategic partnerships will play a pivotal role in advancing AAM capabilities not only in Singapore but also in the broader Asia-Pacific region. Our joint efforts focus on R&D initiatives, potential use cases, regulatory frameworks and public engagement, paving the way for a promising future for AAM in the region.

What are areas where Supernal has an advantage over its competitors – technology, capability, performance, partnerships?

Leveraging Hyundai Motor Group’s vast resources, Supernal is prioritizing “time to scale” over “time to market.”  This will enable our aircraft to be produced at scale, integrating HMG’s advanced supply chain, logistics, distribution and manufacturing processes. Our collaboration with HMG includes developing a scalable digital factory model to advance aerospace materials and assembly techniques. Additionally, partnerships with leading aerospace manufacturers, like GKN Aerospace, will allow us to reduce production costs and time which is key to meeting future demand.

A thriving AAM industry relies on healthy competition; it drives advancements in safety, sustainability and affordability. Having numerous credible companies pursuing AAM also validates the industry and builds the case for its long-term viability. We believe industry collaboration and alignment will be crucial for eVTOL certification and establishing standards and regulations. This collective effort is essential in facilitating the seamless integration of AAM with existing commercial aviation systems.

How does Supernal see the overall market developing globally, especially in terms of regulatory and market development?

Supernal is focused on driving the global adoption of AAM through strategic market exploration. We work closely with lawmakers and regulators to assess AAM’s commercial, technological and regulatory feasibility. Our primary focus is ecosystem development, particularly in key home markets like Los Angeles and Seoul, where we are laying the groundwork for seamless integration of eVTOL aircraft into existing transit systems.

We see significant potential in the Asia-Pacific market, thanks to strong and stable governments that facilitate the adoption of new transportation technologies. Our partnership with Korean Air exemplifies this potential. In October 2023, we partnered with the airline to co-develop the ecosystem and environment necessary for AAM operations in Korea, including eVTOL vehicles compatible with Korea’s UAM environment. The Korean government’s plans to utilize 5G and LTE for pilot communication and create dedicated AAM corridors highlight the region’s readiness to embrace advanced air mobility solutions.

How important are the challenges of scaling up from prototypes to full commercial production?

Scaling up from prototypes to full commercial production is a complex process that demands significant resources and expertise. Drawing upon HMG’s vast resources, our priority is to optimize “time to scale” over “time to market.” Our approach focuses on developing our aircraft for scalable manufacturing by integrating HMG’s advanced supply chain management, logistics, distribution, and manufacturing processes. Our collaboration with HMG includes creating a scalable digital factory model, enabling us to industrialize aerospace materials and assembly advancements.

Are you heartened or worried by recent research into public perception of eVTOL operations?

Public perception is critical in AAM taking flight. We are closely monitoring and responding to the latest research to ensure that our operations are safe, efficient and trusted by the public. Building trust and confidence in eVTOL technology through transparent communication and community engagement is one of the top priorities for us.

The eVTOL industry is the next chapter in the story of vertical lift, which has been around for over 80 years. As technology has evolved, aviation has adapted to incorporate new advancements, and the birth of the eVTOL industry is no different. Supernal, like our peers, is benefiting from this rich heritage of learnings and industry knowledge to create the next generation of vertical lift aircraft.

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