Transportation disruption – the electric flight Gold Rush

Transportation disruption – the electric flight Gold Rush

Hundreds of new designs for clean, quiet electric aircraft are under development around the world, and there is a broad consensus that this is a once-in-a-generation disruptive technology shift. Imagine being able to fly over traffic and congestion, to move around the world’s cities quickly and efficiently. Imagine helicopter-like capability that is quieter, cheaper, more accessible and more sustainable. The electrification of flight is the technology revolution that is making aviation as easy and as useful for shorter hops as it is for longer journeys. Urban passenger flights, cargo transportation, rural air mobility, short range corporate flights, and thin-haul airline flying are among the leading markets where electrification is emerging first. While the rest of the world is paying attention to the new airplanes being developed, VerdeGo Aero is quietly developing the electric propulsion technologies at the heart of these new aircraft. We excel at maximizing the complex relationship of power, economics, safety and reliability; to provide our customers (the aircraft manufacturers) with enough energy to make their vision a reality. A vision that will make it possible for you to fly from a remote cabin in the San Juan islands to Seattle, or Manhattan to JFK, in a matter of minutes instead of hours.

The crux of the issue:

Having enough power and energy onboard an electric aircraft is the Achilles heel for innovators in this space. Batteries are decades away from enabling the most compelling commercial flight applications, and nobody wants to wait that long. Hybrid-electric power enables liquid fuel to be turned into electrons which solves the energy challenge. Then it comes down to economics, efficiency, and noise challenges. The conventional wisdom is to use turbine hybrids with the same engines found in traditional helicopters and small corporate aircraft. While this approach provides enough energy, it negates the exciting noise, efficiency, and emissions benefits of electrification that are driving the entire industry to be so excited about the potential. VerdeGo has solved this dilemma by combining older technologies with new ones to achieve an incredibly elegant solution.

Our engineers went through dozens of engine options and hundreds of configurations to understand how to have both the energy of a hybrid and the quiet, clean, efficient benefits of an electric aircraft. A major ingredient in the recipe for success is the high-efficiency piston diesel engines we have built into our hybrid electric powertrains to deliver high power, low noise, redundant safety and low fuel consumption. We deliver more than four times the energy than battery powertrains, while burning 40% less fuel than conventional turbine hybrids. Diesel engines also use jet fuel which dramatically simplifies their use around the world because no new charging or refueling infrastructure is needed. Additionally, the majority of the bio-fuel research for aviation is focused on jet fuel substitutes and our powertrain is ready made for switching to more sustainable options as they become mainstream.

Having four times the energy is a game-changer for making a useful commercial aircraft. This is the difference between having a limited capability to fly a single ultra-short flight, and the ability to fly several flights without refueling, anywhere in a major metro area. It is also the difference between an aircraft that is on a dead-end path with only the ability to do R&D test hops in a controlled environment, and an aircraft that can be certified to current safety standards and operate within existing legal frameworks. 

Using 40% less fuel is a gigantic competitive advantage in an industry that is typically excited about single-digit performance improvements. Reduced fuel consumption is important for lowering the cost of flying and allowing the market to grow to its full potential. If the industry builds new short-range urban air mobility aircraft to replace helicopters, but the operating cost remains the same as a helicopter, then it’s just technology for the sake of technology. VerdeGo’s hybrid systems are cheaper to operate, cheaper to maintain, and much cheaper to purchase than conventional turbine powerplants. Our Jet-A diesel hybrid architecture enables us to price far below our competition, increase our customers’ profitability, and maintain high margins. Our market entry with hybrids gets the electric flight industry started with a reliable power source that grows into a $1B+ product line for VerdeGo as the demand for clean, quiet flights for passengers and cargo takes off.

While much of VerdeGo’s early focus is on hybrid-electric power, we are also at the forefront of battery technologies. At the heart of our high-performance hybrid system is a world-class battery pack that is powerful, light, and most importantly – safe. One of the biggest challenges in aviation batteries is to manage thermal energy (heat) that is created at high power levels, and VerdeGo has the solution. Our approach is so effective that it not only makes the battery packs more efficient under normal use, it also is able to gracefully deal with potential emergency situations where one or more cells fail. The ability to continue to safely deliver full rated power while one or more cells are melting down, and eliminate the potential for fire, is our “secret sauce”. Managing this energy safely so that fire is never able to start in the first place is our biggest battery competitive advantage.  Additionally, since our unique capabilities are related to the battery pack design that surrounds the cells, and not the individual battery cells themselves, as new battery cell chemistries get introduced, our products aren’t obsoleted, they are improved.

This battery capability makes our systems lighter and more powerful, and the industry has noticed before we have even officially launched this product, just through word of mouth. We are just now selling our first hardware to customers in market niches where battery packs are sufficient on their own, so they can begin early stages of ground-testing their aircraft. As their programs mature, our flight-ready battery packs (enabled by our upcoming Series A) will take over when our customers are ready to begin testing in the air. In this way, we have the most competitive product line for the near term (diesel piston hybrids) and the most competitive high-performance battery packs for the long term as battery cells steadily improve. While competing companies are threatened by the transition from hybrids to batteries, VerdeGo’s business model accelerates as it happens. High performance battery packs grow to a multi-billion dollar opportunity for VerdeGo, starting now with the batteries inside our hybrids and transitioning into all battery-electric aircraft.

The short-term negative impact of COVID19 on the airline industry has been unprecedented, but one silver lining is the dramatic environmental improvement due to reduced transportation emissions. With more than a billion urban residents now breathing cleaner air every day, the pressure on aviation to become cleaner and quieter is intensifying as travel returns and these short-term gains are reversed. VerdeGo and the entire electric flight industry are positioned ahead of this megatrend as the solution that balances our need to travel with the need for environmental sustainability.

VerdeGo Aero has already achieved more than $1.5M in 2019 revenue from both Fortune 500 and startup customers bringing in our team of experts, so that we can assist them with the unique engineering challenges inside an electric plane. As we transition from selling our services, to selling our powertrain hardware, we have the opportunity to grow dramatically. VerdeGo is opening up a Series A round to drive the next phase of development for both batteries and hybrids. As we continue to build our IP and technology lead towards a $1B+ future, we also become increasingly valuable to large players in the aerospace industry who are assessing how to best navigate the disruptive forces of electrification.

On June 10th, join our world class team in the Family Office Network webinar. Hear from our co-founders including:

  • Erik Lindbergh – electric flight pioneer
  • Eric Bartsch – architect of VerdeGo’s business model
  • Dr. Pat Anderson – the technology visionary that has led the industry from day 1

Learn how you can be a part of this high impact investment in revolutionizing clean, quiet, electric air travel.

For more information contact: Eric Bartsch [email protected]