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Autonomous aviation startup Xwing hits $400M valuation after latest funding round

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  The safety pilot has his hands off the controls during an Xwing demonstration flight. Image Credits: Xwing Xwing has scored another win two months after it completed its first gate-to-gate autonomous demonstration flight of a commercial cargo aircraft. The company said Thursday it has raised $40 million at a post-money valuation of $400 million. The company is setting its sights on expansion — not only tripling its engineering team, but eventually running regular fully unmanned commercial cargo flights. Xwing has been developing a technology stack to convert aircraft, including a widely used Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, to function autonomously. But it’s had to solve a few problems first: “the perception problem, the planning problem and the control problem,” Xwing founder Marc Piette explained to TechCrunch. The company has come up with a whole suite of solutions to solve for these problems, including integrating lidar, radar and cameras on the plane; retrofitting the servomotors that

France Moves to Ban Short-Haul Flights

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France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis . A bill prohibiting regional flights that could be replaced with an existing train journey of less than two and a half hours passed the country's National Assembly late on Saturday, as Reuters reported . "We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions," Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio, according to Reuters. The measure now has to pass the French Senate, then return to the lower house for a final vote. It would end regional flights between Paris's Orly airport and cities like Nantes and Bordeaux, The Guardian explained . It would not, however, impact connecting flights through Paris's Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport. The bill is part of a legislative package which aims to reduce France's emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, Reuters report

Shell invests in LanzaJet to speed up deliveries of its synthetic aviation fuel

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Image Credits: Thomas Jackson / Getty Images The energy giant Shell has joined a slew of strategic investors — including All Nippon Airways, Suncor Energy, Mitsui and British Airways — in funding LanzaJet, the company commercializing a process to convert alcohol into jet fuel. A spin-off from LanzaTech , one of the last surviving climate tech startups from the first cleantech boom that’s still privately held, LanzaJet is taking a phased investment approach with its corporate backers, enabling them to invest additional capital as the company scales to larger production facilities. Terms of the initial investment, or LanzaJet’s valuation after the commitment, were not disclosed. LanzaJet claims that it can help the aviation industry reach net-zero emissions, something that would go a long way toward helping the world meet the emissions reductions targets set in the Paris Agreement . “LanzaJet’s technology opens up a new and exciting pathway to produce SAF using an AtJ process and will he

ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-powered vision for aviation nets $21.4 million from Amazon, Shell and Bill Gates-backed fund

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ZeroAvia , the company that’s on a mission to move the world to zero-emission, hydrogen-fueled flight, has just received some corporate jet fuel in the form of a new $21.4 million cash infusion. The investment came from the Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the Ecosystem Integrity Fund , which led the company’s latest round, alongside previous investors Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures , Shell Ventures and Summa Equity . Aviation is a huge contributor to the carbon emissions that cause global warming, and the industry, along with shipping, will be one of the hardest to decarbonize. Electrification technologies have yet to account for ways to propel aircraft or move massive seafaring vessels, and a consensus is emerging among technologists that hydrogen will be the best solution to ensure zero-emissions flight can become a reality. “I’m a big believer in hydrogen from the perspective that if I have enough zero carbon hydrogen, and it’s cheap enough, then

Some airlines are introducing 'flights to nowhere' — and people are paying to take them

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Singapore Airlines is said to be considering a new route next month — what media reports are calling a "flight to nowhere." Flights that take off and land from the same place — in this case, Singapore Changi Airport — may start as early as next month, according to a report in the local Straits Times and elsewhere. Singapore Airlines has not confirmed the flights and told CNBC that "none of these plans have been firmed up." But if it does debut destination-free flying, it will not be the only carrier in Asia that's doing it. No official announcement Such flights could be seen as a way to help the embattled national carrier of Singapore cope during a year of record losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, reports claim, while also allowing residents of the small nation a chance to leave the island — if only for a few hours. Singapore Airlines, which is routinely ranked among the world's best, has been hit hard by the global pandemic, since it does not operate

New double-decker style seat design on planes could let all passengers lie flat

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Being able to lie completely flat on a plane is the travelling dream, but until now it is reserved for those able to fly business class. But a new design by a start-up company has created a double-decker style cabin featuring two tiers of seats, which would mean every passenger could have a lie-flat seat. Zephyr Aerospace initially came up with the plans to give passengers more space, but the concept would also allow travellers more isolation, which could give travellers more confidence in flying following the coronavirus crisis. The design means standard plane cabins could accommodate two levels of passengers using the same amount space meaning holidaymakers wouldn’t have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with other passengers. Photographs of the bunk bed-style plans reveal that passengers could sit above and below each other in rows, accessing the top level by pulling out a cleverly concealed staircase. The seats would be built in rows of 2-4-2 across the cabin, so airlines wouldn’t ha

Where does the money from your ticket go?

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