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Why Dufour Aerospace manufacture their high-quality aircraft in Switzerland

Eszter Kovacs, Co-Founder and CEO of DroneTalks sat down with Jasmine Kent, CTO and Co-Founder at Dufour Aerospace, at Aerial Cities 2023 in Bern to understand the aircraft specifications and advantages regarding quality and a lot more. 

Dufour Aerospace, founded in 2017, develops efficient and sustainable aircraft for patient and passenger transport, and logistics. The VTOL aircraft can take off and land vertically much like a helicopter, but with more energy efficiency and speed thanks to the tilt-wing design. 

What type of aircraft is Dufour Aerospace manufacturing?

Dufour Aerospace is building a new aircraft for critical cargo transport, which is still currently under development. The designs rely on the tilt-wing principle, with electric drive propellers to fly as fast and economical as an airplane, but also contain hybrid elements such as conventional combustion engines or fuel cells for long-range flight. 

The first product set for launch is the Aero2, an uncrewed aerial vehicle designed for critical cargo transport. 

Jasmine explained, “It’s a VTOL aircraft, a tilt-wing that can carry 40 kilos of payload of 400 kilometres.” 

Dufour Aerospace is also manufacturing the manned Aero3, taking the best features from both helicopters and airplanes, making the aircraft ideal for patient transportation and emergency interventions.

Photo: Dufour Aerospace

Dufour Aerospace at the centre of the Swiss drone ecosystem

We asked Jasmine what attracted Dufour Aerospace to Zurich, Switzerland. She told us that Zurich is an ideal location for Dufour Aerospace to manufacture within Dübendorf, as a thriving hub of talent for the drone community, becoming Dufour Aerospace’s “centre of mass”.

Dübendorf Airfield, a regular testing ground for Dufour Aerospace’s aircraft, is also home to Innovation Park Zurich. This is a new platform dedicated to combining industry with science, focusing on research development and innovation, giving the team the strategic advantage of being surrounded by top scientific and industry talent from the drone ecosystem.

The discussion also evaluated the advantages of the Swiss quality of products, particularly in a safety-sensitive field like aviation. Combining quality with innovation, Swiss Made is a protected label only entitled to products where 60% of production costs occur in Switzerland and a minimum of 50% of the manufacturing process takes place within Switzerland to ensure the highest standard of quality.

“Our production is currently in Dübendorf and it's really an ideal site for us. We're in the prototype and pre-series phase of production, and quality is super important. So it's great that we can get such good technical talent. It's definitely a big strength of the Swiss ecosystem, education and engineering. I think they are very strong” explains Jasmine. 

Switzerland is an attractive country for foreigners as it provides a high quality of life, making it very easy for companies to attract world-class aviation talent to this idyllic location. There are many amazing opportunities in Switzerland, and Dufour Aerospace believe there is more to life than just work. Jasmine explained to us that it is important to their company culture that they are located in a place that allows their team to work on leading “high-tech projects and also enjoy their lives with their families in a beautiful environment.”

How the tilt-wing concept champions Dufour Aerospace’s drone product offering 

Seeking to understand what defines Dufour Aerospace’s strength of product, we asked Jasmine to outline what sets the Swiss team's product apart from similar aircraft. 

She explained that the Dübendorf-based company is focused on tilt-wing capabilities, the most efficient kind of convertible aircraft for maximum client satisfaction.

Jasmine also outlined that the team’s experience in aviation gives the customers confidence in Dufour Aerospace’s product. 

“Our team is from an aviation background, so we understand how to build and certify larger aircraft and keep people safe, which is something that’s very important for our customers and for the regulators.”

Commercial growth and partnership development at Dufour Aerospace

Despite being in the prototype and pre-series phase of production, 2023 has been a strong year commercially for Dufour Aerospace who have closed some exciting deals. 

Talking about their success this year, Jasmine told us they have developed a partnership with Spright, who has agreed to buy 40 of Dufour Aerospace’s Aero2 aircraft, with an option to purchase an additional 100.

The Danish company Copenhagen Helicopter along with the partner Copenhagen AirTaxi have signed a letter of intent to purchase both Aero2 and Aero3 to help strengthen their environmentally friendly transportation initiatives within Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.

Jasmine also told us about the signing of a “very significant” contract with European Medical Drone, a Swedish drone operator that connects hospitals through drone transportation. Last month, Dufour Aerospace signed a purchase agreement for 11 Aero2 aircraft, consisting of 1 Aero2 X2.3 prototype as well as 10 serial Aero2 aircraft.

About Dufour Aerospace

Dufour Aerospace develops efficient and ecological aircraft for patient and passenger transport, logistics and public safety. Dufour Aerospace’s current designs rely on the tilt-wing concept allowing them to take off and land vertically in the smallest space. The first product Dufour Aerospace will launch is Aero2, an uncrewed aerial vehicle specifically designed for critical cargo transportation including medical supplies weighing up to 40 kilograms. The next aircraft in development is the manned Aero3 features a spacious cabin including eight sears and large doors.

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