The regional aviation market should gain another competitor, the startup The Aircraft Company, from the USA. The company intends to launch a family of hybrid-electric aircraft named “Pangea”, which is expected to enter service in 2029.
With capacity for up to 30 passengers, the first model is called SY30J and is equipped with four electric motors. Behind the project is experienced Canadian engineer Mario Asselin, who served 14 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force before working on projects such as Bombardier’s Global 7500 and 8000 business jets.
Headquartered in Wichita, The Aircraft Company is betting on a short and medium-haul regional flights, where the SY30J can be up to 90% cheaper to operate.
In an interview with AirInsight, Asselin pointed out that turboprop aircraft burn a lot of fuel in phases such as taxiing, where they often remain stationary for 20 minutes or more.
“All the energy drain that you don’t have to account for during the taxiing or during the descent possibly you’d get a very efficient airplane”, said the CEO of the new company.
According to information on the website of The Aircraft Company, the SY30J will be able to fly up to 400 km with zero emissions or 800 km or more with reduced emissions.
The reason is that the primary propulsion will be electric, but optionally use an on-demand hybrid system, which can include SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) or hydrogen.
Asselin also aims to make the plane capable of operation by a single pilot, already waiting for changes in legislation. Another goal of the project is to operate at airports with small runways, around 1,000 meters long.
In addition, the SY30J will utilize an all-weather operating system called Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) to allow flights to airports without IFR equipment.
Versions with up to 70 seats
The company, however, did not disclose details such as the dimensions of the aircraft, which has a low-wing configuration with winglets and a T-tail.
But Asselin guaranteed that the fuselage will have generous space, capable of accommodating 30 passengers in rows of three seats 21 inches wide. The pitch will be 36 inches, well above the market average.
The CEO of The Aircraft Company envisions offering versions of the Pangea with 48 and 70 seats and said that the project is advanced, including a flight simulator.
The startup is now looking for funding, with conversations with governments that can support the project.
Asked about the demand for an aircraft of this size, Mario Asselin cited a report by Embraer, released in its Energia program, a potential competitor in the future.
According to the Brazilian planemaker, the forecast is that the market will demand around 20,000 aircraft of this type. “No manufacturer makes that many planes these days,” he recalled.