Supernal LLC and GKN Aerospace are partnering on the design and build of major aerostructures and an Electrical Wiring Interconnection System (EWIS) for Supernal’s electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle.
The companies will also mature high-rate manufacturing technologies to produce these parts and assembly methods.
The companies held a signing ceremony for the partnership at the 2023 Paris Air Show, marking the second established aerospace manufacturer agreement Supernal announced at this year’s Paris Air Show, as the company works 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.
GKN will work with Supernal to apply its broad portfolio of design capabilities and manufacturing technologies to the development of Supernal’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 will 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. In working with GKN to mature these innovative processes from the outset, Supernal will develop volume ramp-up capabilities that enable it to rapidly scale production as aircraft order demand 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. “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.”
As part of Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), Supernal is working to integrate the automotive company’s expertise — including supply chain management, logistics and distribution, and manufacturing — throughout the AAM ecosystem. In the manufacturing realm, HMG is helping Supernal to develop a scalable digital factory model that will industrialize aerospace material and assembly advancements. Supernal’s work with leading aerospace manufacturers, such as GKN Aerospace, is an important first step toward its ability to reduce the cost and time of aircraft production.
Supernal and GKN Aerospace’s design and manufacturing activities have begun at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Center in Bristol and across sites in Europe.
“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. “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 plans to grow its portfolio of manufacturing partners across other vehicle components and assemblies, in addition to airframe.