PARIS—Supernal LLC and GKN Aerospace have agreed to partner on design and build of major aerostructures and the electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) for Supernal’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The companies will also work to further the maturation of high-rate parts manufacturing technologies and assembly methods, Supernal said in a release.
Supernal, part of Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), is working to develop a novel high-rate manufacturing process that will enable the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry to meet expected demand in the coming decades. Its partnership with GKN marked the second of two agreements with established aerospace manufacturers that Supernal announced at this summer’s Paris Air Show. The company had also reported that it will partner with Qarbon Aerospace, Inc., to bring component welding techniques to maturity as it works to scale the production of eVTOL vehicles (see Supernal, Qarbon Aerospace Are Partnering to Scale Assembly of eVTOL Components).
GKN Aerospace will work with Supernal to apply its broad portfolio of design capabilities and manufacturing technologies to the development of the company’s eVTOL vehicle. GKN will supply lightweight aerostructures and high-voltage, high-power electrical wiring systems for Supernal’s full-scale technology demonstrator, which the company expects to begin flying in 2024.
The partnership aims to improve the business case—and process—for introducing advanced materials and rate-enabling assembly processes to the AAM industry. Supernal said it will work to develop volume ramp-up capabilities that enable the company to rapidly scale production as demand for aircraft orders grows.
“Manufacturing is crucial to the success of advanced air mobility and Supernal is pleased to partner with leading suppliers, such as GKN Aerospace, to industrialize existing processes,” said Jaiwon Shin, president of Hyundai Motor Group and CEO of Supernal, in a statement. “Instead of focusing on ‘time to market,’ Supernal is prioritizing ‘time to scale.’ Our work with GKN Aerospace will lay the foundation for producing eVTOL vehicles at scale and will be bolstered by Hyundai Motor Group’s high-tech manufacturing processes.”
Supernal said that as part of Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), it is working to integrate the automotive leader’s expertise—including supply chain management, logistics and distribution, and manufacturing—throughout the advanced air mobility ecosystem. In the manufacturing realm, HMG is helping Supernal to develop a scalable digital factory model to industrialize aerospace material and assembly advancements.
Supernal’s work with leading aerospace manufacturers, such as GKN Aerospace, is seen as an important first step toward the company’s ability to reduce the cost and time of aircraft production.
The company said GKN Aerospace is “a global leader in the design and manufacturing of lightweight aerostructures and electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS), across global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the growing advanced air mobility market.”
“We are excited to collaborate with Supernal and to support the development of this all-new eVTOL,” said John Pritchard, president, civil airframes, GKN Aerospace, in the release. “Supernal’s eVTOL can play a key role in the transition to zero-emissions flight, and we are delighted to be collaborating on the platform, in line with our mission to be the most trusted and sustainable partner in the sky. GKN Aerospace is proud to bring to this project its wealth of experience in design and high-rate manufacturing, in conjunction with key technological innovations and expertise.”
Supernal’s partnership with GKN Aerospace is part of the company’s “open ecosystem” approach to address the niche technology needs of AAM. The company said it plans to grow its portfolio of manufacturing partners across other vehicle components and assemblies, in addition to airframe.