Textron to Acquire Pipistrel in Bid to Position in Electric Airplane Market

The Slovenia-based producer of the Velis Electro will join Cessna, Beechcraft, Bell brands under Textron and will form the core of Textron eAviation.

Textron (NYSE: TXT)  and Pipistrel captured the attention of the aviation world on Thursday morning with the announcement that the Providence, Rhode Island-based owner of the iconic Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell aviation brands has “entered into an agreement” to acquire the Slovenia-based Pipistrel.

Pipistrel has pioneered the development and certification of electric aircraft, with its award-winning Velis Electro gaining certification under European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) auspices in June 2020.

“Pipistrel puts Textron in a uniquely strong position to develop technologies for the sustainable aviation market and develop a variety of new aircraft to meet a wide range of customer missions,” said Textron’s chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly in a statement. “Today’s announcement supports Textron’s long-term strategy to offer a family of sustainable aircraft for urban air mobility, general aviation, cargo and special mission roles.”

In August, the Velis Electro began serious flight school testing after Florida Tech purchased its first model and started putting it through its paces. The university operates the aircraft under an experimental certificate while awaiting FAA approval.

The newly formed Textron eAviation will “focus on sustainable flying…[and] leverage the industry-leading product design, certification, manufacturing, and aftermarket solutions from across Textron’s businesses coupled with the newly acquired expertise of Pipistrel,” the companies added in the joint statement. Textron eAviation will be based in Wichita, Kansas, where the company headquarters its Textron Aviation brands.

Pipistrel Leadership Remains On Board

In the announcement, the companies noted that Pipistrel’s founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol plans to remain a minority shareholder—and also serve as “chairman emeritus, consulting on future product plans and strategies for a two-year period.”

“Under my 30-year leadership, Pipistrel’s team has achieved a unique prime position in personal, affordable, environmentally friendly and electric aviation,” said Boscarol in a statement. “The trend and foundation for future projects has clearly been set. 

“To drive Pipistrel’s ambitious goals and to continue its story of success, the joining of Textron and Pipistrel provides deep expertise and resources which would otherwise be inaccessible to Pipistrel alone. 

“With Textron, we are together geared to strive for future growth and look forward to announcing exciting new products and projects. I am delighted to continue witnessing my vision become a reality by being actively engaged with the company for the future.”

What it will mean for development in Textron Aviation’s legacy brands, Cessna and Beechcraft—as well as rotorcraft OEM Bell Helicopter—remains to be seen, including the actual disposition of manufacturing for both Textron and Pipistrel product lines. 

FLYING reached out to Textron Aviation and Pipistrel at press time and will be following this developing story.

Textron was up 2.48 percent in trading on Wednesday ahead of the announcement. The transaction is predicted to close sometime in the second quarter of 2022, subject to regulatory approval and other conditions of the closing.


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