16 April 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

European aerospace supplier Aciturri takes key stake in Dovetail Electric Aviation

Aciturri, a major European aerostructures and engine components producer, has become the latest investor in Dovetail Electric Aviation, an emerging Australian developer of both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric propulsion systems for regional airliners. Aciturri is a significant supplier to major aerospace companies including Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Deutsche Aircraft, Safran, Rolls-Royce, Daher and air taxi manufacturer Lilium. As lead investor in Dovetail’s seed investment round, tranche 2, it elevates the Australian company’s international profile and manufacturing capabilities, ahead of the planned first flight early next year of a battery-electric Cessna Caravan seaplane, as it targets 2026 certification. Dovetail also plans to convert a Beechcraft King Air commuter plane to hydrogen-electric propulsion during 2025.

Dovetail, a partnership between Spanish aerospace company Dante and tourist airline Sydney Seaplanes, said Aciturri would become both a key industrial partner and lead investor, but did not disclose the scale or timing of the investment.

Dovetail is seeking $7 million to progress its zero-emission propulsion systems, having already secured investments from companies including Australian airline operator Regional Express (Rex), Spanish carriers Volotea and Air Nostrum, and Australia-based climate solution accelerator EnergyLab in its first round of seed funding. Aciturri is leading the second round of funding, which will close shortly, with Dovetail expecting additional backing from at least one institutional venture capital fund.

“Aciturri’s involvement brings not only financial support but also significant capabilities that will greatly enhance our technology roadmap and accelerate our path to market,” said Dovetail CEO David Doral. “Their track record and expertise in high technology aerostructures and engine parts will add immense value to our operations, helping us bring our innovative solutions to market faster and more efficiently.” 

The testbed Cessna Caravan due to fly electrically next year will be from the fleet of partner company Sydney Seaplanes, while the King Air for hydrogen-electric trials will come from the fleet of Rex sibling Pel-Air. Based on this trial, Rex also plans to retrofit a hydrogen-electric powertrain into one of the 52 Saab 340 commuter planes it operates on regional routes throughout Australia.

Rex operates the world’s largest fleet of the type, for which there is currently no equivalent-size replacement, and has signalled that, once certified, the hydrogen-electric powertrain could be retrofitted onto more of its Saabs.

Aciturri operates two business streams from multiple facilities in Spain, Portugal, France, Morocco and Brazil, employing 2,900 people in the design, manufacture and assembly of key aerostructures including wings, fuselages, empennage and fairings, and the production of engine components including primary structures, casings and rings, and high precision machining.   

“This partnership represents a significant opportunity to drive innovation in the aviation industry and broaden our contribution to a more sustainable future,” said Alvaro Fernandez Baragaño, CEO of Aciturri Aeroengines and the group’s chief diversification officer.

Dovetail has already secured orders and options valued at more than $160 million for its zero emission conversion kits from customers including UK-based MONTE Aircraft Leasing, which specialises in fleets to serve sub-regional markets and focused on financing and leasing solutions for zero and low emissions technology. It has announced its intention to buy up to 50 powertrains from Dovetail, a mix of battery-electric models to power new or retrofitted Cessna Caravans and hydrogen-electric conversion kits for Beechcraft King Air models.

MONTE will become the preferred financing provider for aircraft converted to Dovetail’s propulsion systems.

In a separate Australian partnership, MONTE has partnered with UK-based Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAes) and Cairns-based operator Torres Strait Air to convert up to 10 Britten-Norman Islander aircraft to hydrogen-electric propulsion for services between Horn Island and 20 short-haul destinations, many of them indigenous communities in the nation’s remote far north.

The airline, which had previously signed a letter of intent to acquire 10 new conventionally-powered Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, will source financing from MONTE to convert the planes zero emission propulsion. The lessor previously committed to acquire 40 conversion kits from CAeS to modify Islander aircraft.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email