Swedish CybAero, which develops and manufactures remotely piloted aircraft systems, has been granted a temporary export license by ISP (Inspectorate of Strategic Products) for demonstration flights in China. ISP is the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls.
These demonstration flights will be jointly carried out with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in April and May for selected potential clients.
“This is very positive news. We will now be able to demonstrate our system to potential new clients with AVIC. This is a fantastic development as CybAero is in the midst of an exciting period of rapid growth and plans to continue its expansion over the next few years,” says Mikael Hult, CEO of CybAero.
In July 2014, CybAero and AVIC signed a framework agreement under which AVIC agreed to purchase at least 70 systems over the following eight years. The order for unmanned helicopters landed, placed by a company in the Chinese AVIC group, translates into sales of at least SEK 700–800 million.
AVIC group, which is one of the world’s largest companies which develops and manufactures aircraft and various types of flying vehicles and has over 400,000 employees, has committed to purchasing at least 20 helicopter systems during the first three years and at least a further 50 systems during the following five years.
“This represents a breakthrough in the market for the civil application of unmanned helicopters. Our goal is to become the global market leader with at least 30 percent of the global market. Through this order, which is our biggest to date, we’ve taken a significant step towards achieving this goal,” Mikael Hult, commented on the deal.
“The order is the largest ever anywhere in the world in the product segment within which CybAero operates, i.e. vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles weighing less than 200kg. This order will be worth nearly SEK 100 million a year if we can turn out the orders over the eight years covered by the agreement. This will provide a stable basis for our entire business for many years to come.”
“The agreement further demonstrates that Linköping and Sweden are at the forefront of the development and production of unmanned vehicles.”
“The Chinese market has huge potential, and we’re convinced that this agreement will generate further business,” said Claes Drougge, chairman of the company’s board, who has participated very actively in the negotiations and helped to bring about the agreement.
After the first five systems under the agreement were ordered AVIC is now looking to acquire additional clients by carrying out new demonstration flights at various locations in China.
CybAero, which is based in Linköping, has already doubled its workforce from 20 to 40 people and plans to take on more employees. The company is also currently increasing its production capacity, partly through its own production facilities and partly through subcontractors.
CybAero’s unmanned helicopters have attracted global attention because they are easy to maintain, robust and cost-effective. They have a range of 20 miles and a flying time of up to six hours.
There are also intentions to establish a joint company with AVIC in order to gain access to its volumes and production expertise. In the long-term, the company may carry out some production locally in China for the Asiatic market. CybAero expects to achieve economies of scale through the joint company, which among other things will result in the further streamlining of operations and the potential to operate closer to the local Asiatic market.