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Saudi partnership will deliver ‘huge economic boost’ to aviation sector

SAUDI Arabia is to make an equity investment in a Bedfordshire company’s work to develop a specially adapted hybrid-electric aircraft that does not need a runway to take off and land.

ARC Aero Systems has signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Saudi defence and security manufacturing specialist Life Shield to work on new aviation solutions and promote manufacturing within the two countries.

The deal will open the way for more than £300 million of investment into the two nations’ aerospace sectors.

ARC Aero Systems, based at Cranfield, is in the advanced stages of developing the modified design of the Avian Pegasus, which it hopes to bring to market in 2026.  The Avian Pegasus (pictured below) is a tried and tested jump take-off gyroplane with features including vertical lift and landing. It requires virtually no infrastructure in accessing remote communities and supporting emergency responders.

The Avian Pegasus 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.

The partnership with Riyadh-based Life Shield is supported by Saudi Arabia’s National Industry Development Center and will see both the Saudi government and Life Shield make an equity investment in ARC Systems to create a new company, Life Shield Aerospace, which will be based in Saudi Arabia.

Life Shield Aerospace will bolster UK manufacturing with the pilot production of each of ARC’s three designs: Pegasus, P9 and C600. It 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.

ARC’s founder and chief executive Dr Seyed Mosheni (main picture) 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.”

The signing of the partnership agreement.

Life Shield’s chairman Hisham AlJuma’an 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.

“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.”

Saudi Arabia is forecasting huge growth in its aviation sector, with passenger numbers expected to treble to 330 million in the next ten years. “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,” said Mr AlJuma’an.

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 $9 billion to $45 billion by 2030.

Dr Mosheni said: “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.”

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