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Ascendance gains funding to fly full-scale prototype
Thursday, 30 March 2023
ATEA, the hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft, is a quiet, low-carbon alternative to helicopters that provides an ideal response to the need for decentralised and regional point-to-point aviation.

Ascendance Flight Technologies, a startup dedicated to sustainable aviation, has raised €21 million, and is now entering an intensive prototyping and scale-up phase with the recent delivery of its integration and test flight facilities at Muret L’Herm aerodrome near Toulouse. The company will continue with its roadmap with the aim of delivering its first aircraft in 2026. The coming years will bring major steps forward in its two priority development areas: Building the first flight-capable full-scale prototype of its ATEA aircraft and continuing with the aircraft certification process that is currently under way with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); and fulfilling its first contracts and partnership agreements to integrate STERNA, its patented modular hybrid propulsion system, into existing aircraft

French Tech Souveraineté, operated by Bpifrance as part of the France 2030 plan, CELAD, Expansion Aerospace Ventures, SC Mahé, Adrien Montfort (CTO Sorare) via Snaw Ventures, and ARIS Occitanie have contributed to this funding round alongside historic investors Habert Dassault Finance, Céleste Management, IRDI, and M-Capital, which have made significant reinvestments on this occasion.

The aim of this round is to enable the company to fulfill its ambitions: to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector by offering unique technologies.

These new funds give Ascendance Flight Technologies the resources to fly its full-scale prototype, begin certification and scale-up actions for its first aircraft, and help its first clients and partners to reduce the carbon emissions of their aircraft thanks to the company’s hybrid technology.

“This fundraising round is critical for sustainable aviation in France. It is a logical step forward in our roadmap for the industry’s energy transition. It will accelerate the technical and commercial development of our products while also contributing to our central aim: to build a sustainable model for cleaner air mobility. We are very proud to have brought together these renowned financial partners, whose quality and complementary nature will ensure that they can support the company through its upcoming development stages,” says Jean-Christophe Lambert, co-founder and CEO of Ascendance Flight Technologies.

Adrien Muller, director of investments at Bpifrance, adds: “Via French Tech Souveraineté, Bpifrance is delighted to support the teams at Ascendance Flight Technologies in this crucial new phase of the company’s development. Ascendance Flight Technologies aims to revolutionize and decarbonize civil aviation through its innovative industrial project. This investment is fully in line with the climate and industrial components of our roadmap.”

Benoit Habert, Managing Director of Habert Dassault Finance, said:

Vincent Gardeau, president of CELAD, adds: “We were drawn to Ascendance Flight Technologies’ innovative, disruptive and decarbonized project and the teams’ enthusiasm. Taking part in this wonderful venture is an opportunity to support France’s environmentally friendly aeronautics ecosystem. The synergies between our companies are clear, particularly in our IT and electronics expertise in embedded systems. CELAD is an industry player with a long-term commitment to helping AFT achieve its ambitions.”

With its twin positioning as a manufacturer of both aircraft and engines, the Toulouse-based startup has focused on markets linked to more sustainable and decarbonized aviation since it was founded in 2018. Unlike most of its competitors, Ascendance has chosen hybrid electric propulsion as a realistic approach to sustainable aviation, applicable to multiple long-range uses (passenger transport, medical, logistics and surveillance applications). ATEA, its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, is a quiet, low-carbon alternative to helicopters that provides an ideal response to the need for decentralized and regional point-to-point aviation. STERNA, its modular hybrid electric propulsion system, compatible with sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and hydrogen, will open up the possibility of a new generation of aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.

The company, which announced the signature of 245 letters of intent (LOI) for its ATEA aircraft in 2022 and carried out full-scale testing of its hybrid technology, is also continuing to expand its personnel. In a testament to Ascendance’s dynamism, leading talents such as Stéphane Viala, previously SVP Engineering at ATR, have already joined the company. 50 positions will be created over the next 18 months to bring new skills to its teams and allow Ascendance Flight Technologies to fulfill its ambitions.

A closer look at the two solutions developed by Ascendance:

STERNA is a hybrid propulsion system that allows multiple energy sources to be used at the same time. Thanks to an innovative electric architecture, its Hybrid Operating System for on-board energy management intelligence, and new aeronautic battery solutions, STERNA will be able to accommodate a thermal combustion module powered by sustainable aviation fuel or new hydrogen solutions, thus contributing to the aviation industry’s energy transition. The company has filed a number of patents on these technologies.

ATEA is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft. With a range of 400 km, a cruising speed of over 200 km/h, noise emissions reduced by a factor of four* and up to 80% less CO2* (*compared with a traditional helicopter), ATEA is a low-carbon helicopter alternative. With eight rotors built into the wings, this aircraft offers enhanced safety resulting from full redundancy. It is intended for regional, decentralized flights based on four primary use cases: passenger transport, medical emergencies, logistics and surveillance.

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Ascendance Flight Technologies ATEA