Raytheon Technologies is the lead investor in a $12 million Series A funding round for hybrid-electric propulsion specialist VerdeGo Aero. The U.S. group’s venture capital arm, RTX Ventures, announced the investment this week, saying the Florida-based start-up will collaborate with its aircraft engines subsidiary Pratt & Whitney to develop propulsion systems for advanced air mobility (AAM) applications.
Last year, VerdeGo Aero introduced its 185-kW VH-3 generator, which can be combined with various hybrid-electric configurations to deliver peak-burst power of up to 1MW and continuous power of up to 370 kW. The company’s propulsion systems have been selected for applications including Airflow’s eSTOL aircraft, Jaunt Air Mobility’s Journey eVTOL vehicle, and XTI’s TriFan 600.
According to VerdeGo Aero, the technology could possibly be scaled up to deliver a continuous electrical output of “multiple megawatts,” opening the potential to power larger aircraft, like those in the business aviation and airline sectors served by Pratt & Whitney. The partnership is expected to provide support in efforts to develop and commercialize third-generation full-scale hybrid-electric powertrains.
“VerdeGo Aero is helping to pioneer the emerging field of hybrid-electric propulsion technology, which has an important role to play in enabling the aviation industry’s goal of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Pratt & Whitney’s chief sustainability officer, Graham Webb. “This investment has promising potential to enhance our technology and capability in segments of our small-engine business while moving quickly and nimbly to advance our hybrid-electric propulsion strategy.”
In combination with the National Research Council of Canada and battery specialist H55, Pratt & Whitney is already working on plans for a hybrid-electric regional airliner. It aims to start ground testing on a Dash 8 100 aircraft next year and to be ready for flight tests in 2024.
According to VerdeGo Aero CEO Eric Bartsch, the company, which was founded in 2017, seeks to convert existing aircraft engines into hybrid powerplants. With stronger capital reserves, the company is recruiting more engineers to join its team in Daytona Beach.