A pioneering UK company developing an affordable, sustainable, and runway-independent aircraft has signed strategic partnership agreement (SPA) with a Saudi-based company to develop innovative aviation solutions and promote manufacturing within the two countries. The deal between ARC Aero Systems and the Riyadh-headquartered defence and security manufacturing specialist Life Shield will open the way for upwards of £300m of investment into the two nations’ aerospace sectors. 

Bedfordshire-based ARC Aero Systems is in the advanced stages of developing a specially adapted hybrid-electric powered aircraft which it plans to bring to market by 2026. The company’s modified design of the Avian Pegasus, a tried and tested jump take-off gyroplane with specific features including vertical lift and landing, requires virtually no infrastructure in accessing remote communities and supporting emergency responders. This newly developed air taxi has approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration and can transport passengers for commercial purposes.

ARC is also developing a larger nine-seat Linx P9 compound rotorcraft and a C600, one of the largest civilian unmanned aerial vehicles, capable of carrying payloads of up to 100kg across long distances.

Supported by Saudi Arabia’s National Industry Development Center, this new partnership will see both the Saudi Government and Life Shield make an equity investment in ARC Systems with the creation of a new company, based in the Middle East nation, called Life Shield Aerospace.

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The newly formed company will bolster UK manufacturing with the pilot production of each of ARC’s three designs: Pegasus, P9 and C600. Life Shield Aerospace will then set up facilities for wider scale manufacturing of aircraft in Saudi Arabia for domestic use by the country’s Ministry of Air Transport and for worldwide export.

The SPA also includes the delivery of UK-based pilot training and it opens the door to a strategic academic collaboration with Cranfield University.

As well as providing a major boost to UK aviation and manufacturing, the global partnership marks another key step forward for ARC Aero Systems as it prepares to launch into a market estimated to grow from its current value of around $9bn to $45bn by 2030.

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ARC’s founder and CEO, Dr Seyed Mosheni, said: “We are incredibly excited and honoured to be part of this global joint venture with Life Shield. Not only does this support ARC in bringing its innovative solutions to market, it also provides a huge economic boost to UK aviation by promoting manufacturing, further R&D and academic collaboration within the sector.

“The Saudi Government’s National Industry Development Center has shown a real commitment in bringing this partnership to fruition and structuring it to ensure it will deliver reciprocal benefits to both the UK and Saudi Arabia.

“This collaboration marks a significant milestone in ARC’s young history and positions the company to become a major player in the aerospace sector by the end of this decade.”

Mr Hisham AlJuma’an, Chairman of Life Shield, said: “Along with the benefits it will deliver in the UK, this strategic partnership will enhance industrial cooperation and promote the exchange of expertise between leading companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other global companies in this field.

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“It will also provide a significant contribution to the National Center for Industrial Development in the Aircraft sector and support the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is forecasting huge growth in its aviation sector with passenger numbers expected to treble to 330 million per year between now and 2023. This underlines the potential of the air industry, which is one of the most important sectors of our national industry strategy in terms of industrial development and direct job opportunities.”