Ascen­dance Flight Tech­nolo­gies has unveiled the design of ATEA, the com­pa­ny’s five-seater VTOL air­craft which is sched­uled to go into pro­duc­tion by 2025 and have a range of 400km.

After three years of R&D, the French start-up com­pa­ny from Toulouse plans to oper­ate ATEA in peri-urban envi­ron­ments — zones of tran­si­tion from rur­al to urban land uses locat­ed between the out­er lim­its of urban and region­al cen­tres and the rur­al envi­ron­ment.

The air­craft’s new con­fig­u­ra­tion has inte­grat­ed a hybrid sys­tem patent­ed by Ascen­dance called STERNA, which is devised on an elec­tric engine pow­ered by the merg­ing of two ener­gy sources: com­bus­tion and an elec­tric bat­tery.

Over time, the com­pa­ny is plan­ning to phase out the com­bus­tion ener­gy source and replace it with new sources of clean­er ener­gy such as hydro­gen or Sus­tain­able Avi­a­tion Fuel. Eight new gen­er­a­tion rotors are now fea­tured on a tan­dem wing con­fig­u­ra­tion accord­ing to the ‘fan-in-wing’ prin­ci­ple. Patent­ed by Ascen­dance, this shroud­ed rotor tech­nol­o­gy allows increased pow­er dur­ing the take-off and land­ing phas­es in addi­tion to sig­nif­i­cant noise reduc­tion.

The num­ber of rotors guar­an­tee manoeu­vra­bil­i­ty of the air­craft in case of fail­ure, with resilience being com­pli­ant with reg­u­la­to­ry require­ments. The Lift and Cruise sys­tem of the air­craft pro­vides sep­a­ra­tion of ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal flight, which are ensured by the rotors for the for­mer and by pro­pellers locat­ed in the nose and tail fin for the lat­ter. The result­ing absence of piv­ot­ing mech­a­nisms aims to reduces risk of fail­ure, which also sim­pli­fies the aircraft’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion while improv­ing over­all air­craft safe­ty

Jean-Christophe Lam­bert, co-founder and CEO of Asce­da, said: “We set-up Ascen­dance Flight Tech­nolo­gies with a very clear vision of what we want­ed to achieve: to accel­er­ate tran­si­tion towards green avi­a­tion thanks to hybrid tech­nol­o­gy. 

“The design of ATEA is the con­crete reflec­tion of our val­ues, our expe­ri­ence and of our know-how. The air­craft we are pre­sent­ing to you today is the result of huge efforts by our R&D depart­ment, tests and tri­als on 4 pro­to­types and a great deal of thought on costs and the ease of fly­ing such an air­craft. Its char­ac­ter­is­tics pro­vide all the per­for­mances expect­ed by a sec­tor that the ongo­ing tran­si­tion has made more demand­ing”

In Sep­tem­ber, Ascen­dance closed a €10 mil­lion fund­ing round backed by Habert Das­sault Finance, Celeste Man­age­ment, M Cap­i­tal, Kima Ven­tures and IRDI in Sep­tem­ber 2021, which also includ­ed some senior lead­ers from the indus­try and inter­na­tion­al entre­pre­neurs.

This suc­cess­ful fund­ing round fol­lows the announce­ment of the high- pro­file board: for­mer Safran Chair­man Jean-Paul Herte­man, for­mer Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber at Renault, Jean-Christophe Kugler, and for­mer Head of the Air­bus E‑Aircraft Pro­gramme, Agnès Plagneux-Bertrand.

Lam­bert added: “ATEA will soon exist in the form of a full scale pro­to­type and will go into test­ing phase in 2023. With help from our finan­cial part­ners we are now expe­ri­enc­ing vig­or­ous devel­op­ment, active­ly recruit­ing, run­ning test and tri­al pro­grams and steadi­ly mov­ing towards our 2025 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion objec­tive.”