Jaunt Air Mobility plans to fly electric demonstrator in 2023
By Paul Brinkmann|May 9, 2022
Jaunt to seek certification in Canada first for its unusual slowed-rotor and wing design
Update: After publication, Jaunt provided updated information about the date it intends to fly its demonstrator. This version includes the update.
Jaunt Air Mobility is readying the research and engineering infrastructure it will need to design and begin flying a demonstration version of its unusual slowed-rotor electric aircraft by 2023 as a key step in its plan to sell its Journey rotorcraft to air taxi operators.
The company intends to certify the winged rotorcraft with Transport Canada, and then with FAA under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement that permits civil aviation certifications to be shared between the two countries. FAA has such agreements with dozens of countries.
“We expect FAA type certification by the end of 2026, and entry into service right after that. So we’re basically saying just under two years for certification work,” said Chief Operations Officer Jesse Crispino, a former U.S. Navy helicopter test pilot, in an interview with me.
Jaunt and other companies are planning to build or operate eVTOLs, electrical vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, for air taxi services.
Crispino said the company chose to certify first with Transport Canada in a belief that the certification could come through more quickly given that multiple eVTOL makers are seeking certifications from FAA. “They’re a little busy,” he said.
In addition to Canada, for initial sales Jaunt is targeting companies in Brazil, elsewhere in South America and Italy, with regulatory approval to be granted under similar bilateral agreements with FAA. Eventually Jaunt plans to sell in the United States as well.
Last month the Dallas-based company announced it will perform research and development and build its Journey aircraft in Montreal.
“We saw a tremendous opportunity in Quebec and Montreal, because there’s a lot of aerospace talent that’s actually living there and working in other industries,” Crispino said, referring to Bombardier Aerospace’s long history of building aircraft there.
Jaunt plans to pay $100 million to L&T Technology Services, an engineering services company based in India, to open the Montreal facility by a date it did not disclose. The company described the contract as “multiyear” but did not specify how many years. While the company will remain headquartered in Dallas, about 95% of the development work will be done by the Jaunt Canada affiliate.
Jaunt was formed in 2019 after it acquired designs and demonstrator aircraft from Texas-based Carter Aviation Technologies, an aviation research and development company and maker of the CarterCopter design. Carter had received $1 million in funding from NASA for development.
Carter had developed slowed-rotor design for the craft, which reduces drag by slowing the rotor, Crispino said.
Like the CarterCopter, the Jaunt Journey eVTOL will be a small helicopter with wings, with all the traditional controls of a helicopter.
“And then as you fly and get some speed on the aircraft, the rotor will slow down — giving you the efficiencies in terms of less drag,” he said. “Then the wings pick up the lift, and now it flies more like an airplane.”
In this cruise phase, about 5% of the lift will come from the slowed rotor, Crispino said.
Jaunt doesn’t disclose how much investment it has attracted, he said.
The company plans to focus on its aircraft and not infrastructure. “We may be assisting others with their building vertiports, but we won’t build them ourselves,” he added.