Textron takes over Slovenia’s Pipistrel
The US conglomerate Textron, which produces Cessna and Beechcraft aircraft, is acquiring the Slovenian electric aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel. Upon completion of the transaction, Textron plans to form a new business unit called Textron eAviation for the development of sustainable aircraft.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, according to the companies. Under a signed agreement, Textron has committed to retaining the Pipistrel brand, according to chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly. In addition, the company’s headquarters, research and development and production in Slovenia and Italy will be maintained. The US group also plans to make additional investments in Pipistrel for the development and production of future products.
Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel, will reportedly remain a minority shareholder. He will serve as chairman emeritus for a period of two years, advising on future product plans and strategies.
“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,” Textron CEO Donnelly explained of the venture. “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.”
Pipistrel expects the acquisition to provide access to increased resources, technical and regulatory expertise, and a global sales and support network to accelerate the development and certification of electric and hybrid aircraft. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, the companies wrote in a statement, including regulatory approvals.
“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,” Boscarol says. “With Textron, we are together geared to strive for future growth and look forward to announcing exciting new products and projects.”
In February 2021, Pipistrel had announced it was working on a 20-seat zero-emission regional aircraft. It is expected to be available between 2028 and 2030. The Miniliner concept unveiled at the time could fly on hydrogen, but Pipistrel was also considering other propulsion solutions at the time.
The regional aircraft is expected to have ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres and be able to take off and land on runways less than one kilometre long – including grass runways at small airfields. Pipistrel pushed the development of the regional aircraft within the framework of the EU-funded UNIFIER19 project together with the Politecnico di Milano and the Delft University of Technology.
Last November, a collaboration with California-based electric aircraft developer Airflow to develop an all-electric propulsion system for Airflow’s proof-of-concept aircraft was announced. As part of the collaboration, the Slovenian aircraft manufacturer will contribute electric motors, motor controls and batteries and “explore a partnership in the electric propulsion solution for Airflow’s eventual production aircraft”, Airflow announced at the time.