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.”