News out this morning is that Textron is buying Slovenian aircraft maker Pipistrel.

Fresh from certifying the SkyCourier, Textron is acquiring an OEM with an interesting history and an even more interesting future.  Textron already has some storied names in its portfolio: Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell are storied aviation brands. Going forward, Pipistrel will have access to greater resources, technical and regulatory expertise, plus a global aircraft sales and support network.  This should also accelerate Pipistrel’s development and certification of electric and hybrid-electric aircraft. Upon closing of the transaction, Textron plans to form a new business segment, Textron eAviation, focused on the development of sustainable aircraft, which will include Pipistrel.

As the Textron PR points out: “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,” said Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly. “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 has been celebrated as one of the world’s most important and successful manufacturers of electric aircraft,” continued Donnelly. “Textron is committed to maintaining Pipistrel’s brand, headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing in Slovenia and Italy while making additional investments in Pipistrel for the development and production of future products.”

The rapid growth in “e-aviation” means that, invariably, the best of the innovative firms will be absorbed into the current industry OEMs. Being the first mover, Textron gets to pick and acquire the best.  This move is, in our view, smart. Pipistrel has demonstrated over its 30-years an ability to develop and market personal aircraft.  It has more recently shown itself to be a pioneer in unmanned solutions and electrically powered aircraft.  Textron is acquiring not just a good brand to add to its existing good brands. It is acquiring a source of R&D whose value can be shared across the rest of the combine. 

As the PR goes on to say: In 2020, Pipistrel’s Velis Electro became the world’s first, and currently only, electric aircraft to receive full type certification from EASA. This achievement followed a series of electric aircraft introductions since the company began research and development of electric propulsion in 2000. Pipistrel’s pioneering work has been recognized through awards from NASA, IDC, and other organizations. The company, which offers a family of gliders and light aircraft with both electric and combustion engines, has delivered more than 2,500 light aircraft worldwide since its founding in 1989 and additionally has both hybrid and electric propulsion models under development. 

A very good move by Textron and an assured way of expanding Pipistrel’s brand and aircraft – a win-win.  Now, will we see the rest of the industry start a feeding frenzy looking for deals? Also, in a stroke, Embraer has serious competition.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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