Banking

GE Rival Rolls-Royce Makes This Decadelong Commitment To Air Taxis

Rolls-Royce on Wednesday said it plans to invest more than $100 million in energy storage systems over the next decade that would power zero-emissions flights — marking the aviation industry’s latest investment in an air taxi future.




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The industrial conglomerate, which competes with General Electric (GE) and Raytheon (RTX) in aviation, said it was working on energy storage systems that would allow aircraft to make zero-emissions flights of more than 100 miles on a single charge.

The energy storage systems would power propulsion for electric vertical takeoff and landing — or eVTOL — air taxi planes. They would serve the so-called urban air mobility market and fixed-wing aircraft with up to 19 seats for commuters.

Rolls-Royce will invest 80 million British pounds in energy storage systems over the next decade, or around $112.8 million. That investment, it said, would create around 300 jobs by 2030.

Air Taxi ‘One-Stop Shop?’

The announcement from Rolls-Royce marks the company’s latest effort to develop battery systems for aircraft.

“We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems,” Rob Watson, director of electrical at Rolls-Royce, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This will ensure that we can offer our customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether that is an eVTOL or a commuter aircraft,” he continued. “It will enable us to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, which is incredibly exciting as these new markets develop and expand.”

Air taxi companies like Archer and Vertical Aerospace are developing similar aircraft, on predictions of widening carbon footprints and denser road traffic in cities. But air commutes for large numbers of people could still be years away.

Air Taxi Stocks

Rolls-Royce has put its money elsewhere in the air taxi industry. Rolls-Royce, American Airlines (AAL), Honeywell (HON) and others were among those to invest in Vertical, Vertical said last week.

In that announcement, Vertical Aerospace also said it had landed “up to 1,000” preorders from American and aircraft leasing company Avolon, with a preorder option from Virgin Atlantic. Vertical also said it would go public via the Broadstone Acquisition (BSN) special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Archer, meanwhile, is backed by United Airlines (UAL) and is going public via Atlas Crest Investment (ACIC).

Other air taxi startups have made similar plans to go public via SPACs. Joby Aviation, one such startup, has plans to do so via Reinvent Technology Partners (RTP). Ilium, a German air taxi startup, also plans to go public via the SPAC Qell Acquisition (QELL).

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