Start-up Cosmic Aerospace building ‘first electric aircraft with airline range’

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | May 18, 2023

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 5 seconds.

Ever since the aviation industry adopted the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, numerous air operators and airframe and engine manufacturers have begun to accelerate initiatives that will help the industry get there. Companies like Bye Aerospace, Eviation, Heart Aerospace, magniX, and ZeroAvia are working towards bringing the electric aircraft of the future to the skies.

New to the lineup of electric aviation trailblazers is a start-up based in Denver, Colorado — with some facilities in Belgium — called Cosmic Aerospace. Led by CEO Christopher Chahine (who spent years researching energy and aviation at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Brussels); CTO Marshall Gusman (former design lead at Boom Supersonic); and chief engineer Joe Wilding (former CTO of Boom Supersonic), there are a few things that set this company and its aircraft concept apart from the rest.

A top-down view of a rendering of the Cosmic Skylark ell-electric aircraft. Cosmic Aerospace Image

The first is that Cosmic is designing a clean-sheet electric aircraft, with an electric jet propulsion system, itself. The second is that its all-electric aircraft, dubbed the Cosmic Skylark, is being designed to fly up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), which is more than any other electric regional aircraft in the market.

Cosmic Aerospace is betting on enhanced propulsion systems to achieve its goal, while other airframe or engine manufacturers, and even some air operators, have focused on battery technology or hydrogen fuel cell systems. The trouble with batteries is that there are currently still limitations when it comes to power storage/range, as well as uncertainties surrounding battery certification standards.

For example, Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft, which achieved its first flight in September 2022, is powered by two magniX magni650 electric propulsion units and features an “advanced battery system.” The nine-passenger aircraft is expected to operate flights ranging from 240 km to 400 km (150 miles to 250 miles) upon entry into service, and Eviation says it hopes to improve the range as battery technology evolves.

Cosmic Aerospace, however, is aiming to build a 25-passenger aircraft that produces zero emissions, and has a “longer range without battery miracles.” The Cosmic Skylark is intended to be “the world’s most energy efficient passenger aircraft,” according to the company, and will feature ultra-efficient wings with a lightweight structure. Cosmic says the Skylark will have a 50 percent lower direct operating cost compared to a conventional jet.

In July 2022, Cosmic established an engine development facility at Limburg Regional Airport in Belgium. Cosmic Aerospace Photo

The company achieved initial funding to carry out its mission in April 2022; it raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding, co-led by Swedish venture capital firm, Pale Blue Dot, and Silicon Valley firm, 50 Years.

Three months later, Cosmic established an engine development facility at Limburg Regional Airport in Belgium, which allowed the company to move forward with development and testing of its electric jet propulsion system.  

In March 2023, Cosmic announced that it made important progress with its first engine prototype for the Skylark during the last six months of 2022 — including designing, manufacturing, and testing a full-scale prototype, called EP-1.

“With the latest testing, the Cosmic team successfully demonstrated operations at full speed and power,” the company said in a statement. “These tests also reached static thrust levels that match modern combustion jet engines in the critical thrust-to-weight metric. This high performance, in combination with the electrical benefit of being 2.5 times more energy efficient, is a key enabler for Cosmic’s vision for sustainable aviation.”

During the last six months of 2022, Cosmic designed, manufactured, and tested a full-scale engine prototype, called EP-1. Cosmic Aerospace Photo

According to its Skylark timeline, Cosmic had intended to build and test a full-scale engine in 2022. This year, the goal is to complete aerodynamics and structures testing of the full-scale wing section. By 2025, the company hopes to achieve the first flight of a full-scale demonstrator aircraft, followed by the first flight of a production aircraft in 2027.

Cosmic is anticipating that the Skylark will enter into service in 2028.

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