Carbon-free aviation is their hobby. Jean-Christophe Lambert, Benoît Ferran, Clément Dinel and Thibault Baldivia, four engineers in aeronautics and electrical engineering, firmly believe in it: it is possible to develop flying machines that are much more respectful of the environment. This is what they have wanted to prove since 2018, when they founded Ascendance Flight Technologies, a start-up which is developing an aircraft with a hybrid propulsion system (electric and thermal).
But their common passion is much older: the engineers, winners of the Point 2023 inventors’ list, met at Airbus, around the E-Fan. They worked together on the design and development of this all-electric and aerodynamic 600-kilo aircraft which, on July 10, 2015, achieved the feat of crossing the English Channel – between Lydd and Calais.
“In 2017, Airbus decided to end this program on its electric-powered aircraft project, but we were determined to continue our efforts, one way or another, in favor of sustainable aviation, remembers Jean-Christophe Lambert, president of the start-up. When we started our company, it was clearly not the priority of the sector, we were visionaries and it was a subject on which the actors of the aeronautical ecosystem had to be educated. »
To decarbonize aviation, Ascendance Flight Technologies has several strings to its bow. Its Atea plane – named after the Polynesian goddess of the firmament – is designed to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, and is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system (electric and thermal energy) that would reduce up to 80% of in-flight emissions and to divide the noise emitted by the machine by four.
“Our aircraft can carry up to five people for 400 kilometers at 200 km/h. Rather, it is intended for regional journeys, in places where natural barriers (mountains, water) block other means of transport and prevent access to various services, such as healthcare, in particular”, specifies Jean-Christophe Lambert. .
Another major project is the development of Sterna, an electric hybrid technology that could be integrated into aircraft from other aircraft manufacturers. “This propulsion system could have a huge impact on the sector, as it provides access to turnkey technology to hybridize conventional aircraft,” continues the engineer.
So, what are the ambitions of this rising nugget? “Becoming a leader in electric hybrids in the aviation sector”, launches, confident, Jean-Christophe Lambert. Already a partner of the ADP group (Aéroports de Paris), the start-up plans to hire more than 50 people by the end of 2023 and to fly its first full-size prototype from 2024.