Crisis, which crisis ? For the Toulouse aircraft manufacturer Aura Aero, all the lights are green, when the sector is struggling. “In the current context, we talk a lot about Toulouse and the Detroit syndrome [en référence à l’ancienne capitale américaine de l’automobile, en déclin depuis les années 1970]. It’s wrong “, Relativizes Jérémy Caussade, the president of this start-up founded in 2018.
On March 22, 2021, during the inauguration of the assembly line housed in a hangar at the Toulouse-Francazal air base (Haute-Garonne), this former Airbus engineer announced, in front of an audience of local elected officials and of employees, the launch of its ambitious project: ERA, for Electrical Regional Aircraft. “Our positioning is militant. Rather than talking, our job is to act and respond with action to environmental threats ”, warns Mr. Caussade. “It’s a big challenge, a fight”, he admits.
Behind this acronym hides a nineteen-seater, electrically powered aircraft. For Aura, this aircraft opens up the regional transport market on a global scale. “The idea is to be able to cover short distances, mostly under 600 kilometers, with zero carbon emissions in flight”, specifies Jérémy Caussade. This device would then be an alternative solution for connecting Toulouse to Lyon or Bordeaux to Brest.
Projects take off
However, it will be necessary to arm yourself with patience before seeing it fly. The first prototype should be designed in 2024, for commissioning expected in 2026. However, the company, which claims to have received letters of intent for fifty copies, is already ensuring its rear bases: the workforce should double by the end of 2021, to reach around 100 employees.
Aura Aero is not starting from scratch. Wilfried Dufaud, Fabien Raison and Jérémy Caussade, the three engineers keen on aeronautics at the head of the company, have already proven their worth. They developed a small aerobatic plane, Intégral R, in just a few months. And the entry into its capital of the investment fund Innovacom, in January 2021, accelerates the takeoff of projects. The amount raised, the sum of which is not revealed, will be used to complete the production of a version dedicated to flight schools and to decline the two two-seater aircraft in an electric version, called Integral E. The company is banking on the assembly of 30 aircraft in 2022, and around fifty in 2023.