The amount of capital that is pouring into the aerospace industry from venture capitalists will have a profound impact on the future of aviation.
During the 20th century, much of the capital invested in aerospace came from governments, directed toward spending in military and space. When the Cold War ended, a lot of capital dried up, and innovation slowed.
But in the past decade, the aerospace innovation winter ended, and we’ve seen an explosion of new startups and ideas. Venture capitalists have started to take the place of governments as the primary source of innovative capital around the aerospace industry.
Closer to earth, we’ve seen startups pursuing a number of innovative ideas, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. The hottest aviation segment encompasses eVTOLs, promising to create the urban air mobility (UAM) sector that Morgan Stanley believes will surpass $9.6 trillion by 2050. If they’re right, the UAM sector will be the most transformative industry since the internet.
Investors have started to pour a lot of money into the space, backing startups such as Joby Aviation, Boom Supersonic, Xwing, Kitty Hawk, or Elroy Air—all promising to make the world more accessible and physically connected.
According to Pitchbook, more than 200 aerospace companies have raised more than $10 billion dollars in venture capital since 2018.
Just this past week, we saw a pureplay flight tech venture capital firm form with $230 million to invest in urban air mobility startups. UP.Partners counts famed ETF (exchange traded fund) principal Cathie Woods, Alaska Airlines, and Toyota as major investors.
GA Also Scores
But eVTOL and space aren’t the only areas seeing investment. General aviation is also benefiting.
Icon Aircraft is one of the most successful venture-backed general aviation companies, having raised $460 million, with valuation of $780 million. Bye Aerospace recently closed a $20 million Series B venture round, hoping to usher in electric propulsion. Skyryse—another flight tech startup that hopes to make piloting an aircraft far more accessible—just raised $200 million.
The fact remains that while some of these companies will fail, aviation will win. With new capital and startups, we will get new technologies that will make aviation safer, more efficient, and more economical. It will force regulators to embrace innovation and find ways to address major issues that GA pilots struggle with. It will also bring in a whole new batch of young people to the aviation industry who will discover the joy of our adventure, and what it means to be an aviator.
Aviation has always been a place where innovation and creativity have been embraced. After all, the entire concept of powered aviation is still in its infancy. At FLYING, we recognize that some of our audience will express disbelief and even find some of the future concepts unsettling. We also find some of the claims to stretch reality. But we also recognize that these conversations will bring a new level of interest and awareness to aviation and will give us all the chance to share our love with people just discovering what personal aviation is all about.
This is the idea behind Modern FLYING. It’s to cover the more speculative businesses and concepts in a way that enables startups and innovators to share their dreams with the FLYING audience. Modern FLYING articles can be found on the FLYING website, but also will be a single feature in the new print edition of FLYING.
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