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March 2, 2024

EVTOLs most disruptive aviation tech in over 50 years: Crysalion

Crisalion Mobility, a European company, developing advanced aerial mobility solutions (AAM), unveiled its flagship vehicle – the Integrity at the recently concluded Dubai Airshow.

The Spanish firm began testing its zero-emission eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicle for the first time in 2019. The vehicle’s primary uses include urban air mobility (UAM), emergency medical services (EMS), cargo, and tourism. It is one of the first European eVTOLs to complete test flights in European airspace with its scaled prototype.

The unveiled vehicle, with a cruising speed of 180 kilometres per hour and a top speed of approximately 220 kilometres per hour, is capable of carrying upto five persons, including the pilot and generates just 45 decibels in audio levels. Its design and functionality – of flying short distances while carrying a light payload, could make it a chopper-killer. Will it though? Only time will tell.

Q. Why did Crysalion Mobility choose the Dubai Airshow to showcase its product?

We at Crystallion Mobility, are a three-year-old Spanish startup. As we explore the advanced mobility segment, the industry by nature is international and global. Our decision to be present at the Dubai Airshow was influenced by our review at the beginning of the year, recognising the Gulf region as a welcoming hub for innovation and innovative solutions.

In fact, we are excited to announce a strategic alliance with a local company, making this show an ideal opportunity to present our newest offering on an international platform. [Crysalion announced a tie-up with VALTRANS the day after this interview was conducted.]

Q. Is this strategic alliance a first for your company in terms of international partnerships?

While we have several partners at varying stages of maturity across different markets like Latin America, this specific alliance marks our first significant step in this direction.

Q. Why did you choose to rebrand from UMILES Next to Crysalion?

UMILES, initially a drone-focused company, was established in 2016. It evolved three years ago into the advanced mobility segment, which necessitated a name change. UMILES was a reference to unmanned miles, and as we developed our technology and product further, it didn’t fully encapsulate our transformation, especially as we now incorporate piloted crafts.

The name Crysalion emerged during our rebranding process. It blends elements from Greek mythology—representing adventure and resilience—with the concepts of transformation and leadership, symbolised by the chrysalis and the lion, respectively. It’s a name that resonates with strength, aspiration, and positive connotations in various languages which is what we hope to imbibe and denote.

Q. What sets Crysalion’s eVTOL apart from competitors?

Crysalion‘s Integrity stands out due to its patented technology. It has a unique configuration which was developed in collaboration with Tecnalia, and is safeguarded by a global patent. This technology, which works on the rotor-control, is called “Flyfree”. It essentially suspends the aircraft from four drones using passive joints, offering exceptional stability and a smooth ride. This configuration also tackles the challenging transition phase of vertical to horizontal flight, which is a critical aspect of eVTOLs.

Q. How does your battery technology and lifecycle contribute to your offerings?

Batteries are one of the most critical elements of the whole project because they determine your range, your autonomy, and therefore how useful the missions that you’re proposing can be. We are currently relying on lithium-ion technology as it is extremely developed and tested across various use cases. Our primary focus is on ensuring optimal range and autonomy for our missions. We’re vigilant about sustainability and exploring secondary uses for batteries post-aircraft life. With our design, we offer a range between 100 and 120 km, catering to various missions like cargo, emergency services, tourism, and urban air mobility.

Q. What markets are you targeting, and what’s your timeline for customer orders?

We’re engaged in discussions across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. These conversations are in different stages of maturity.  If you look at the order book globally, it looks phenomenal as there are more than 9,000 aircraft on order. But of these, how many are firm orders? It’s actually a very low number. Everyone is excited about the possibilities and we see great potential in these markets and anticipate further developments as we continue.

Q. Are regulatory challenges affecting your operations across different markets?

Absolutely, the regulatory landscape poses challenges, especially as eVTOLs are disrupting the sector. When you look at the recent history of the aerospace industry, the last 30 or 40 or 50 years has seen a lot of the innovation but it has been disruptive. It was more progressive innovation where the regulator and the operators were in a relatively comfortable position, where there was a lot of data behind them to justify the requirements and how you could demonstrate that you fill the requirements. Today we are in a completely new game with the technology powering eVTOL. I can say, we are in a situation which has no precedence as we are marrying electric-powered tech with vertical aircrafts meant to ferry passengers. So, we need to lay the railroads ahead of the train.

Hence, regulators are navigating uncharted territory, and we’re cooperating fully. Our roadmap is realistic, acknowledging the need for time and collaboration with regulators to ensure the highest safety standards for our entry into the market, anticipated around 2030.

This sector operates on a fine balance between innovation and adherence to stringent regulations. We are proud to be at the forefront of this evolution, working hand in hand with regulatory bodies to establish a safe and sustainable aerial mobility landscape. While the process can be meticulous and time-consuming, it’s crucial for us to deliver a product that not only excels in technology but also complies with the highest safety standards.

Q. How do you perceive the evolving technology landscape impacting the aerospace sector?

The pace of technological advancement in aerospace is astounding, pushing the boundaries of what was once considered possible. Our commitment lies not just in the current technology but also in keeping a close eye on emerging developments, such as solid-state batteries or alternative power sources. We aim to stay adaptive and responsive to technological shifts while ensuring our current designs offer the best available solutions to our operators.

Collaborative partnerships are crucial as we navigate this ever-evolving landscape. We actively engage with tech partners, regulatory bodies, and potential customers to foster innovation and ensure that our solutions are aligned with industry needs. It’s an exciting time for us, and we are eager to contribute to shaping the future of aerial mobility.