It’s been a busy start to 2021 for Horizon Aircraft. The Canadian aerospace firm recently came out of stealth mode and revealed its stunning Cavorite X5 aircraft, which features a patented wing design to enable highly efficient operational flight. And more recently, it has now been acquired by Astro Aerospace.
But it’s still full steam ahead for the team, led by CEO Brandon Robinson and his father Brian. eVTOL Insights caught up with Brandon to get more insight into its latest news and what this means for the company going forward.
Q: Brandon, many congratulations on this latest news. Are you able to tell us more about the background behind this agreement?
BR: “We have admired Astro since their pioneering efforts back in 2017, when it was one of the first eVTOL companies to fly with a person on-board. A couple of years ago we had the chance to help Astro with some of their technical development, and we have remained connected since then. The team at Astro has been supportive of our Cavorite X5 project and eventually it made sense to combine our efforts. I think one of the coolest things about the acquisition by Astro is that we will be the only eVTOL with a horizontally integrated offering.
“With Elroy we have the short range eVTOL traditional “air taxi”, moving passengers around safely and at very low cost. Alta will focus on short range cargo and some special missions with a focus on low operating costs and seamless integration for its mission sets. The Cavorite X5 dovetails on to the offering with a high speed medium to long range capability for passenger, air cargo, medevac, disaster relief and other specialty missions.”
Q: What has feedback from the industry been like following the acquisition?
BR: “The feedback has been very positive. Like every startup in this space, many struggle for legitimacy until you prove yourself. Having the recognition from a pioneer in the eVTOL market has generated some really positive feedback.”
Q: With coming out of stealth mode last month, and now this acquisition by Astro, it’s been quite a whirlwind start for you and the team this year!
BR: “It certainly has been a whirlwind, but very exciting. You never have to motivate anyone at Horizon Aircraft. It’s just such an exciting project: working on leading-edge technology, building an amazing new machine that is going to disrupt the market, and having a flying prototype already.
“We just have an incredibly experienced team and when you have people that have been building aeroplanes for half a century like my father, they know how to make smart choices early and keep laser focus on building a machine that will accomplish the targeted missions. Really, this speaks to focus. And focus means accuracy and speed to market.”
Q: Will this acquisition help accelerate Horizon Aircraft’s journey to market?
BR: “Yes. By combining Astro’s resources with our own, we’ll be able to dramatically accelerate development.”
Q: Where do you think Astro can have the greatest impact for Horizon Aircraft going forward?
BR: “Astro offers experience and pedigree. They have been in the eVTOL marketplace since the beginning. Although admittedly they have not communicated well, there has been significant development work ongoing.
“But this type of development is complex and they had the opportunity to add our engineering muscle into the equation. And Horizon Aircraft will benefit from the additional resources available to a public company. Another advantage is that the public will also be able to invest in the vision and enjoy a pretty amazing growth story.”
Q: Are you able to expand on your vision, and what would it ideally look like for both Astro and Horizon?
BR: “With this acquisition Astro will be the only company with flying products across the entire AAM spectrum. While others focus on niche missions, we will have products for each segment. It’s that horizontal integration that we are excited about. While other companies spend millions marketing eVTOL aircraft with thousands of pounds of batteries on-board we will stay focused on building highly engineered, practically useful and safe aircraft.”
Q: Your father has amassed significant experience in building aircraft over the last 50 years. He also must be excited at the prospect of working on Astro’s portfolio?
BR: “It really is interesting because as I said, almost two years ago we looked at Astro’s portfolio from an engineering perspective and made some technical recommendations. We’ve also been doing some consulting for them and that led to a close relationship with their development team.
“My father was the mind behind those early recommendations and as such he is familiar with Astro’s advanced products. So, he has been thinking about this for quite a while and now we have the opportunity to implement some of our ideas.”
Q: Are you able to disclose what will happen now for the rest of the year?
BR: “There will be some announcements on board positions and I can say there’s going to be a very strong leadership team at Astro, from the board level all the way down. Some of these folks will have very deep industry connections in aerospace.
“With this type of powerful network, Astro will have access to elite technologies and resources that perhaps others do not. Bottom line, there’s going to be a lot of support behind us going forward and this is one of the things I’m most excited about.”