By Mike Mangano
Air France-KLM Move to Support Electric Aircraft with Ampaire
Aircraft support provider Air France Industries KLM Engineering and Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) has taken steps to support electric aircraft, signing a memorandum of understanding with US electric aviation pioneer Ampaire. The move, announced on October 19, means the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) giant will accelerate its familiarity with the electric aviation field with the guidance and assistance of Ampaire.
With the new MoU, both companies will aim to develop training for ground engineers as part of a global network, install upgrades for modified aircraft, as well as further collaborate for extended support of a 19-seat aircraft. According to KLM E&M Executive Vice President Ton Dortmans, Ampaire was selected due to its approach being “visionary and also extremely methodical and practical, which means these beneficial technologies can be already introduced in the very near future.”
As part of AFI KLM M&E’s future plans, the company aims to set itself up as the preferred electric training partner, contemplating the benefits of using augmented and virtual reality technology in the process.
Ampaire, having already tested its hybrid-electric aircraft on airline routes, intends to reach the goal of fully electric aircraft with modified hybrid aircraft as a stepping stone. In a statement, Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker said that “AFI KLM E&M’s powerful global network and strong expertise will give operators everywhere high technical confidence in new propulsion systems.”
In addition to the Ampaire memorandum of understanding, Air France Industries KLM Maintenance & Engineering is showing further interest in electric aviation, having also signed an MoU with French hybrid-VTOL start-up Ascendance Flight Technologies. The MoU allows for the potential to collaborate line maintenance, component repair, mechanics training and airworthiness management.
Despite Ascendance ‘start-up’ status, Air France Industries Executive Vice President Géry Mortreux stated: “we are very interested in electric and hydride electric propulsion technologies, which are set to be future business drivers over the next decade.” He further added that “this type of cooperation is in the general interest (of aviation) and is a further illustration of the general mobilization of our industry to decarbonize aviation – a collective effort in which AFI KLM E&M is of course fully involved.”
In return, Ascendance CEO Jean-Christophe Lambert said “in parallel with our efforts to develop a new type of aircraft, it is very important for us to prepare the future of its operations today, in conjunction with the best experts in our industry. Maintenance is obviously at the center of our customers’ concerns and this collaboration with AFI KLM E&M is a major step towards providing them reliable solutions.”
Ascendance is currently developing its ‘Atea’ VTOL aircraft, a five-seat alternative to helicopters, with the goal of readying the vehicle for operations by 2024. According to Ascendance, Atea will have “a range of 400 km, a reduction in carbon emissions of up to 80% and a fourfold reduction in noise emissions, it is suitable for urban and regional use.