Hybrid eVTOL manufacturer PLANA signed an MoU last month with LG Uplus to conduct joint research on 5G/LTE-based avionics data communications for urban air mobility (UAM). They will collaborate on the development of technologies to enable UAM aircraft to communicate operational data to each other and to traffic management platforms.
A 5G network would ensure a greater level of safety for high-density traffic involving UAM aircraft like eVTOLs, particularly between altitudes of 1,000 and 2,000 feet.
“It is quite a meaningful moment for LG Uplus to start a collaboration with PLANA, a Korean hybrid eVTOL startup, which offers intracity to intercity flight operations,” commented head of corporate service development lab of LG Uplus, Youngseo Jeon. “We plan to maximize the safety of UAM’s operation and passenger convenience through deploying 5G/LTE technologies to UAM.”
PLANA also announced the signing of an MoU with Jeju Air, the largest South Korean low-cost airline, earlier this month. They will work together to create an advanced air mobility ecosystem.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport is conducting its Korean Urban Air Mobility (K-UAM) Grand Challenge in the second half of 2023. PLANA and Jeju Air plan to cooperate in the first phase of this challenge. The companies also intend to work together for the training of industry workers, including pilots, and for AAM-related Air Operator Certificate (AOC) qualification standards.
“We will be able to provide clients the unique experience of long-distance flying services with over 500 kilometers flight range, which has become PLANA AAM’s competitive edge,” remarked Braden J. Kim, CEO of PLANA, on the partnership with Jeju Air.
The airline’s CEO, Kim E-bae, shared that their expertise will be valuable for creating a stable business model for AAM services. Jeju Air will be able to expand its business model beyond UAM operations through its work with PLANA.
The hybrid eVTOL developer plans to demonstrate a pure battery-based scale model of its aircraft by conducting the first flight this year. PLANA also intends to open an office in the U.S. by the end of 2023 to collaborate more closely with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The former vice president of the Advanced Defense Technology Research Institute (Korean DARPA) at the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), Dr. Taekyu Reu, joined PLANA as a senior vice president of aircraft configuration engineering, the company announced this week. Other experts employed at PLANA have previous experience at Airbus, Collins Aerospace, Hyundai Motor, and Honda, among other leading OEMs and companies.
PLANA selected an electric powertrain supplier, Electric Power Systems, for its hybrid-electric aircraft last October. The eVTOL developer also concluded its pre-series A funding round last fall with a total of $9 million USD, bringing total investment in PLANA to about $10 million. FuturePlay, Kibo Technology Fund, Schmidt, DSC Investment, Shinhan Asset Management, Dt& Investment, Industrial Bank of Korea, and Xenoholdings Asia all participated in the pre-series A fundraising round.
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