Air Courtage becomes world’s first to insure private eVTOLs

Air Courtage becomes world’s first to insure private eVTOLs

24-Feb-2023 Source: Skyfly

  • Air Courtage Assurances (“Air Courtage”) is to provide the world’s first EVTOL insurance product, exclusively for clients of the Axe by Skyfly
  • Working with national light aircraft bodies, Air Courtage provides insurance solutions for thousands of aircraft builders and operators.
  • Air Courtage has designed official in-house insurance coverage for members of the UK Light Aircraft Association (LAA), which is expected to be the first organisation to certify  the Axe EVTOL.

“With series production underway for the Axe EVTOL and our first customers due to receive their aircraft next year, we turned to Air Courtage – the insurance broker of choice for the UK LAA – to develop a bespoke insurance product for owners of our Axe EVTOL. Air Courtage immediately understood the unique aspects of our design – with its four wings, 8 fixed-angle motors, and ballistic parachute – and the resulting greater safety. The four wings enable the Axe to fly like a fixed-wing airplane whilst it is also able to fly like a helicopter, taking off and landing vertically. Air Courtage used this to make the case to their underwriters – no easy task with an entirely new kind of aircraft, but it helps that the Axe is demonstrably safer than both airplanes and helicopters. Air Courtage is innovative, has a can-do mentality and relishes the challenge of enabling the global EVTOL revolution and sustainable aviation.”

 Jaap Rademaker, CCO, Skyfly

Formed in 1999 and based in France, Air Courtage Assurances currently insures approximately 26,000 aircraft in Europe, of which almost half are “kit-built” or light aircraft like the Axe EVTOL. The company has an impressive track record of providing insurance solutions for representative General Aviation bodies across Europe, including the RSA (Fédération du Réseau du Sport de l’Air, the French association of vintage and home-built aircraft), NVAV (the Dutch Experimental Aircraft Association) and ILAS (Irish Light Aviation Society), among several others.

Air Courtage is also the insurer of choice for the United Kingdom Light Aircraft Association, which is expected to become the first national body to certify the Axe EVTOL  in 2024. As such, many Axe EVTOLs are likely to operate on the LAA register. Air Courtage’s existing deep partnership with the UK LAA means that LAA-registered Axe EVTOLs should automatically qualify for Air Courtage’s LAA-wide insurance offering, allowing Axe owners to get insurance enabling them to fly their personal Axe EVTOL straight away.

“We are strongly convinced we have to play a role to enable aviation-related innovative and meaningful projects to thrive in the face of the many challenges stakeholders face. The Axe EVTOL by Skyfly fits perfectly in our global strategy to package, with our insurance partners, the right solutions for the future needs of aviation.  SkyFly recognised that, with over 26,000 aircraft of any type, 30,000 pilots and more that 1,600 UAV operators already insured through Air Courtage, Air Courtage was the right partner to create the right insurance product for Axe owners and give them peace of mind in flying properly insured.”

– Caroline Cognet Renard, Group CEO, Air Courtage Assurances

As there is not an off-the-shelf insurance product currently in existence for private EVTOL aircraft, Air Courtage’s product, tailor-made for the Axe, is further recognition of the Axe’s high standards of safety and its broad market appeal.

Air Courtage will underwrite the Axe EVTOL insurance with one of the world’s largest insurers, whom Air Courtage has worked with on an extensive risk analysis. This process has been made much easier because of the Axe’s many layers of safety redundancy, but also because the Axe is a fully-functioning fixed-wing aircraft, which insurers are already familiar with.

“This is the first aircraft of its kind that links the known personal fixed–wing aircraft environment with the real novelty of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. From the specifications presented, this aircraft can glide. In that regard, it provides extra layers of safety which both insurers and users appreciate. We also like the aeronautical expertise and clarity of the team at Skyfly and this helped us to create a product.”

– Laurent Détroyat, Strategic Commercial Development Lead, Air Courtage Assurances

“Thanks to the thoroughly calculated, clear and transparent information provided by Skyfly, we have been able to find a leading global player in the insurance industry ready to accompany us to manage the risk of this project. Insurance is all about safety,  ‘low loss -ratio’ and the project proposed by Skyfly is good enough to have a partner following”.

– Maud Badot, Skyfly Project Manager, Air Courtage Assurances

What is the Axe EVTOL?

With a fully-electric range of 100 miles, or 200 miles with an optional hybrid generator, and a cruise speed of 100mph, the Axe by Skyfly is a truly revolutionary two-seat E-VTOL aircraft available for USD 180,000. It is as easy to fly as a consumer camera drone, and due to its small footprint and low noise, the Axe can be kept at home and flown directly to its destination, all without having to encounter traffic jams, road works, railway stations or airports.

Its unique four-winged design (patent pending), developed by renowned aeronautical engineer Dr William Brooks, enables the Axe not just to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but also to fly, take off and land like a conventional airplane. This  ability to also take off and land on a runway means Skyfly’s Axe is the only personal two-seat EVTOL aircraft that you can fly with any existing airplane (fixed-wing) pilot’s license. By providing lift, the wings also enable a much larger range compared to “rotors only” EVTOLs, an extra layer of safety due to its good glide performance, and a class-leading 30kw energy use in cruise – half that of a Tesla electric car.

The Axe also offers better safety than a helicopter, thanks to its eight-motor distributed propulsion and its glide ability, which is comparable to that of a Cessna. Additionally, the Axe is fitted with a ballistic parachute – which a helicopter can never have due to the positioning of its rotors.

Skyfly does not aim to develop an air taxi that shuttles commercial passengers into city centres, nor is it venturing down the onerous commercial certification route, which leads to high development costs, as well as expensive and lengthy maintenance schedules that are not suitable for a private pilot.

Instead, Skyfly follows existing certification routes for private kit-built aircraft, which greatly reduces costs for the owner and enables the Axe to be sold at a base price of 180,000 USD.

Unlike commercial air taxis, which require as-yet-unbuilt “vertiport” infrastructure, the Axe EVTOL can take off and land in a garden or any agricultural land where the landowner has given permission, without needing modifications or expensive infrastructure. This use is legal and well established, with many light aircraft owners operating in this way worldwide from private “farm strips”.

The Axe is not just an “idea” or “concept”, but a fully designed, prototype-tested aircraft, which is now in series production. Our team of aircraft engineers has developed the Axe not as a financial proposition for large air taxi businesses, but as a versatile personal aircraft with strict focus on low weight and aerodynamic efficiency. It differs from other EVTOL manufacturers in that it uses existing technology from proven suppliers to provide key components, including the propulsion system, battery system and flight control system. Furthermore, unlike other winged EVTOLs, it has no rotating motor or wing elements, but instead has fixed angle rotors, saving on weight, cost, complexity and maintenance. For more information about how the Axe stands out from other EVTOLs, watch our full explainer video.

Skyfly’s Chief engineer, Dr William Brooks, has designed the Axe with efficiency at its core, with the four wings giving it the highest energy efficiency in comparison to other two-seat EVTOL aircraft. Compared to many other EVTOL designs, which have no or inadequate wings, the Axe’s wings also generate useful lift, improving efficiency, range and safety, while also giving it the ability to fly, land and takeoff like a conventional fixed-wing airplane if required or desired for training or saving of energy.

Skyfly sees the Axe as a direct competitor to many currently-available two seat airplanes or helicopters – one that is much easier to fly, safer, quieter and more affordable to buy, operate and maintain.

In the first months since its official launch, the Axe has secured dozens of orders and has attracted the attention of air mobility specialist investors. This backing allows Skyfly to push forward with its development schedule. The strong and lightweight composite fuselage tooling for series production is ordered, paid for and nearly ready, and with that, Skyfly is building its first series production aircraft, with test flights due to begin mid-2023. Customer deliveries will follow at the end of 2024.

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