Advanced Air Mobility Market Intelligence

Soaring to New Heights: Maeve’s Vision for Key Markets and Type Certification

Soaring to New Heights: Maeve’s Vision for Key Markets and Type Certification

An interview with Maeve

Co-founder & chief commercial officer Maeve Aerospace

Bans on short-haul flights and business jets are starting to spread throughout countries in Europe, potentially curbing the travel dreams of numerous passengers and business executives. Swooping in to provide opportunity in the midst of a shifting aviation landscape is Maeve Aerospace. Born from a desire to offer a cleaner, more environmentally viable means of flying, the Dutch start-up possesses grand plans to revolutionize air travel with its all-electric Maeve 01 44-passenger airliner.

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Asian Sky Group, Joost Dieben, the company’s co-founder and chief commercial officer, delved into a myriad of topics pertaining to the firm’s development. He spoke in depth about the exciting growth markets ripe with potential, the eye-watering amount required to fund the aircraft’s road to market, and the multiple stepping stones that must be crossed to obtain type certification.

Opportunities from Crisis

As an all-electric airliner producer, Maeve is integrating into certain markets that are embracing new advancements in aviation and advocating for environmentally-friendly aircraft that can fulfill the job of their traditional counterparts.

Among the markets that fit this profile are France, the Netherlands, and multiple Scandinavian countries as they are taking radical steps to eradicate air and noise pollution through a zero-tolerance approach to short-haul flights.

In France’s case, the drastic change was implemented as part of the country’s Climate Law in 2021, which seeks to combat carbon emissions. The move will see the nation eradicate flights between cities that can be reached in less than two-and-a-half hours by train. It will also have a major impact on business aviation as private jets are also in the crosshairs.

“Looking at the biggest target what we have now are continent countries in this case that are actually starting to ban domestic flights or ban short-haul flights. Think about what’s happening in the Scandinavian markets – Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are putting a ban on their short-haul flights,” he said.

“Or France who are putting a ban on flights less than 500 km. Those are very clear markets that our aircraft could actually support. We could still fly because that’s the quickest means and for a lot of these routes, there is no other alternative.”

On top of the environmental aspect, Dieben said Maeve will also look to target nations where congestion is a major problem. He highlighted the Netherlands as a perfect example as Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam announced it would be cutting 60,000 flight slots in January. The move, which will come into effect from November 2023, aims to slash noise and air pollution in the region while improving the quality of life for residents that reside close to the airport. This isn’t the only drastic step taken by Schiphol Airport as it also unveiled further plans to ban business jets by 2025. Given the shifting trend towards cleaner, more environmentally-friendly air travel, Dieben feels the Maeve 01 “could be a very good solution”.

The Americas and island countries such as New Zealand are also among the markets on Maeve’s radar.

“North America and South America is, of course, a very big growth market for us as a regional aircraft,” he said. “Other markets you can think about are the islands where you have no alternative. Think about Greece or the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao).”

Potential in India and China

Looking to countries brimming with potential, Dieben acknowledged that India and China are the two that stand out most since both are economic powerhouses and are growing steadily as regional aviation hotspots. That said, he admitted there is a need for the necessary advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure to be built for the Maeve 01 and other electric aircraft to operate.

Both India and China are committed to introducing electric aircraft in their respective markets but have made limited progress on the infrastructure front. While countries like the U.S., Italy, and France are working with infrastructure companies to build vertiports as part of their efforts to develop AAM, developing countries with large populations like India and China are still at the starting line. So far, Chinese eVTOL firm EHang has spearheaded the drive in China, having developed a vertiport in Guangzhou.

“India and China are growth markets for the regional aviation sector purely because the infrastructure is not there yet. At the economic level, the inhabitants are going up, so they want access to travel,” Dieben pointed out.

Plenty of Unique Selling Points

Maeve is not the only company involved in this space and Dieben is well aware of the other competitors that have ventured into this territory. Rather than bristle at the prospect of having to stave off numerous competitors, he is happy to coincide with other firms like Sweden’s Heart Aerospace. That said, he noted Maeve is currently the biggest announced fully electric airliner, which “gives us a leading edge of a few years to any of the competitors out there”.

Apart from a head start, the Maeve 01 is also a viable commercial airline solution for companies that want to adhere to changing industry standards when it comes to sustainability.

The zero-emissions aspect further adds to the Maeve 01’s already impressive pedigree as it does not emit any carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxide. It also scores points for not emitting contrails, which, in Diebens eyes, is “a very big polluting aspect which kind of gets overlooked”.

Battery technology may be the only drawback for the electric airliner right now, but given the significant advancements already being made, Dieben sees immense potential in the future to increase passenger capacity and flight distances.

He mentioned there are a growing number of companies entering the market that are looking to establish themselves as the leading provider of batteries for electric aircraft. Among those making great headway are Amprius Technologies, which has partnered with Maeve, China’s CATL, and Sweden’s Northvolt. With the industry getting increasingly crowded, Dieben acknowledged “the race to get higher-density batteries is on”.

“We know that our battery pack needs replacing every one to one-and-a-half years. It needs switching out because the battery degrades over time, which is, of course, a drawback,” he added. “The flip side of it is that it allows us to replace that battery with the latest in battery technology.

“Battery technology is progressing and that’s where we’ve been focusing on the last few years. So it means over time, we could go up to 52 passengers and actually extend the range and get more and more routes up to 700 to 1,000 kilometers going forward.”

A Long Road to Type Certification

The road to type certification will be a long and arduous one for Maeve as there are many hurdles to clear along the way. The company aims to get certificated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) by the end of Q4 in 2029 before setting its sights on the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which Dieben described as a “natural next step”. He expects the process of obtaining type certification from the FAA to be seamless as the requirements are closely aligned with that of EASA.

Once the Maeve 01 is officially certificated, Dieben acknowledged that production of the aircraft, which can travel distances of up to 460 km at a cruising speed of 488 kph, will be greenlit from that exact moment.

“Ultimately, what we’re talking about, is the actual certification, which is type certification, which in our case is the CS-25 category,” he said. “We’ve planned for the end of 2029. Our launch date is the actual approval date and that’s the moment that we can start producing and flying commercially with our Maeve 01 aircraft.”

The ultimate destination has been set and is a shining beacon in the distance, lighting the way for the Maeve 01’s scheduled arrival into the market. But there are more pressing matters at hand that will get the wheels turning and put everything in motion, and that is to secure Design Organisation Approval (DOA) and Production Organisations Approvals (POA), which are significant milestones on the pathway to certification. Dieben hopes to attain the DOA from EASA by the end of next year.

Series A Round is Just the Start

To bring the Maeve 01 electric airliner to market, Dieben is under no illusion about the amount of capital needed. Currently, the company is in the midst of a Series A capital raise and is targeting 40 million Euros (USD$44.3 million). Half of that money has already been secured through the European Investment Fund.

Going forward, however, Dieben expects the financial investment required to swell to the range of 1.5 to 2 billion Euros at minimum (USD$1.6 billion to USD$2.2 billion). “And that does not include any of the production capacity that you need to build up. If you add that to the mix, you have to extend it by a few billion,” he said.

The big question looming over Maeve will be obtaining a staggering amount of money. When questioned about this, Dieben admitted that it seems like a huge mountain to overcome. He conceded that it will need to be broken down, whereby capital comes flowing in from different streams, such as various governments, suppliers, partnerships, and, at a later stage, an IPO.

“It’s an extreme amount of money that you need. Those are investments that we cannot get ourselves, we cannot get through private routes,” he said.

“Going forward, we’ll see this is only achievable together with suppliers and partners. But also think about governments, it’s a global project that we’re doing and that means that we need to have investment from governments. Down the way, if we go into the production side of it, you might think about IPO, that final stage of capital investment.”

The Pressure is On

Given the increasingly vociferous demands from governments and the public to tackle the growing environmental endemic, Dieben feels now is the perfect time to be developing the Maeve 01 as it will provide a solution to a problem that has been lingering for far too long.

“The timing is perfect, we couldn’t have started Maeve 10 years ago, we would have failed.

The timing is perfect because the technology is there, it’s advancing at a sufficient speed, but also the public pressure is on.”

He said while addressing mounting calls from the public for cleaner modes of transport.

Addressing potential increases in transportation demand in the future, Maeve wants its electric aircraft to evolve over time and increase the number of passengers it can carry from 44 to 52 by 2032. It may seem very ambitious for a young start-up, but Dieben brushed aside potential concerns.

Whether the uptick in passenger numbers happens remains to be seen as there are two hurdles standing in the way.

“We’re talking about 10 years odd from now. So, is it going to be 2032? Our guess is yes, but it’s based on what we see and the discussion we have with our partners and their roadmaps that they are sharing with us,” Dieben said. “From an aircraft point of view, it’s developed for that (increase in passengers), it’s just the battery technology that needs to make it viable.”

The conditions are perfect for Maeve to enjoy great success. All that’s needed is for the company’s electric airliner to take off and embark on its mission of bringing a whole new concept of travel to communities all over the world.