La Rochelle-based aircraft manufacturer Elixir Aircraft delivered its first single-engine aircraft assembled from composite materials on February 2, 2022. In partnership with Turbotech, the La Rochelle-based SME is developing a propulsion system project aimed at achieving concrete results in terms of low-carbon aviation.
Elixir Aircraft is a company of about 60 employees created in 2015 that aims to meet the challenges of light aviation by designing safer, more economical and more versatile aircraft. The young SME has already sold 37 examples of a two-seat single-engine aircraft with a structure made of only nine composite parts, including a wing made of a single block of 8.5 meters. The manufacturing of this composite aircraft is inspired by racing sailboats, using a technology called Carbon Oneshot. This technology allows to simplify the structures (there are no more complex assemblies with rivets, glue or screws) in order to reduce the number of failures, to increase the safety of the aircraft, and to reduce the costs because less maintenance will be necessary, as well as a lower consumption of half compared to the majority of the aircraft used in aeroclub.
Elixir Aircraft already has 108 aircraft pre-ordered, the equivalent of 3 years of production to come, and counts Airbus Flight Academy among its first customers, to whom 4 aircraft have already been sold. The aircraft manufacturer will open a new production site this year to internalize all carbon parts production. It is also expected to deliver some 20 aircraft this year, for a turnover of around 4.5 million euros.
Thanks to its innovative approach, the company has received a European subsidy of 2.5 million euros, then a raising of 3 million euros in 2021 from Ouest croissance and Océan participations, and 1.5 million euros from the France relance plan.
In addition, the company is awaiting certification of its aircraft for the United States, which accounts for nearly 70% of the annual market of 1500 units.
With the France Relance plan, the French government is betting on light aviation to achieve concrete results more quickly in the area of low-carbon aviation.
On March 14, 2022, during a visit to Safran Helicopter Engines in Pau, the French Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, announced the launch of the BeautHyfuel project, led by Turbotech and Elixir Aircraft. This 30-month project aims to develop a complete cryogenic hydrogen propulsion system (from the tank to the engine) for light aviation in order to eventually lead to the certification of a cryogenic hydrogen light aircraft. The BeautHyfuel project is supported to the tune of 3.6 M€ by France Relance within the framework of CORAC-PME. The first tests of the hydrogen engines will take place this year.
The aeronautics component of the France 2030 plan provides €1.2 billion in new funding, with the goal set by the French President of developing a low-carbon aircraft in France by 2030. 800 million will be used to support the technological roadmap of the Civil Aeronautics Research Council (CORAC), which is shared by the French government and industry. The projects supported include innovations such as new ultra-clean engines, electric hybridization, very low fuel consumption airliners, hydrogen-powered aircraft, and the ability to incorporate 100% sustainable aeronautical fuels into engines…