Automotive giant Hyundai’s unit dedicated to developing next-generation advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft, Supernal, has turned to aerospace company BAE Systems to create and produce the flight control tech for its future electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxis.
Supernal announced the link-up this month, saying BAE Systems would conceive the computerized flight control system of its battery-powered air taxis and other eVTOL vehicles planned for AAM operation. Work on the project will begin shortly in support of Supernal’s objective to develop the aircraft with which it wants to initiate certification procedures in the US by 2024, and put into service by 2028.
Supernal said BAE Systems will take the lead in defining the architecture of a lightweight, fly-by-wire platform for its air taxis and other eVTOL craft. Fly-by-wire is a navigational tech that converts movement of the flight controllers into electronic signals that computers use to effect changes to the plane’s direction and elevation.
That technology, Supernal said, would be compatible with both piloted flights as well as during the autonomous operation it intends for most of its aircraft.
BAE Systems’ fly-by-wire tech also promises to be easier to shrink down to the more compact spaces of Supernal’s eVTOL air taxis, yet also be adaptable to the larger AAM craft it will produce for regional routes.
“As an established aerospace and defense technology leader, BAE Systems will play a critical role for Supernal as we develop our eVTOL vehicle to the highest commercial aviation standards,” said Ben Diachun, Supernal’s chief technology officer “Together, we will create a bespoke flight controls system that brings advanced air mobility one step closer to reaching the masses in the coming decades.”
BAE Systems will draw on its over four decades of experience in designing and certifying fly-by-wire systems for commercial and military aircraft – including vertical takeoff craft – in helping Supernal develop its next-generation vehicles.
“The development of advanced, high-integrity controls is crucial to meet the demands of electric aircraft,” said Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of controls and avionics solutions at BAE Systems. “BAE Systems is harnessing its investment in electrification and expertise in flight-critical systems to advance sustainable aviation. We look forward to working with Supernal to make this shared vision a reality.”
Supernal was initially created as an internal unit of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division, and assigned with working on a concept craft called the S-A1. That became the basis for its eVTOL air taxi now under development.
The South Korean automotive titan last year spun Supernal off as a US-based affiliate to spearhead the conglomerate’s stated ambition to manufacture and market AAM vehicles within the next decade. Hyundai is also a major backer of Urban-Air Ports, a UK developer of drone and AAM vertiports,