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Swiss clean aviation firm H55 creates Canadian subsidiary

IMAGE: H55's logo
Courtesy H55 S.A.

Swiss clean aviation company H55 S.A. is expanding its presence in North America with the establishment of H55 Canada Inc., a fully owned subsidiary to be based in Greater Montreal.

H55’s electric propulsion and battery systems are used in a wide variety of applications. The company was established in 2017 as a spinoff of the Solar Impulse project, the first solar-powered electric airplane to fly around the world.

It is currently working to secure a manufacturing facility, with battery pack production expected to begin in 2024. The company already had plans for an "automated production facility" in Canada.

H55 also received a repayable $10-million loan from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) for its expansion.

"Having CED as a partner is an important validation of our experience coming from a major global aerospace cluster," André Borschberg, H55's co–founder and executive chairman, said in a statement.

"Being present in Canada is a first step in building out our North American presence. There is a strategic fit with Canada, given the country's leading competitive position in the aviation sector and its commitment to sustainable aviation.

"CED's commitment in supporting H55 illustrates a shared vision in making air transportation quiet, clean and affordable. All the prerequisites for a successful partnership are in place."

H55's presence in Canada

The company has been active in Canada since 2021 when it partnered with Richmond, B.C.-based Harbour Air – North America’s largest seaplane operator – to produce highly efficient battery packs for the first electric Beaver commuter airplane.

In 2022, H55 was selected by Longueuil, Que.-based aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada to provide battery systems for its regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator.

H55 is also designing and manufacturing the aircraft battery system to support Montreal-based CAE Inc.’s effort to convert its Piper Archer training fleet, and to make that fleet commercially viable for customers.

A release issued by H55 notes “many opportunities” to collaborate with companies and research institutions in Canada. It also states H55 will work closely with existing customers “in terms of development, customization and customer support.”

The Canadian investment is part of the CED’s Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, which began in 2021 to assist the aviation sector to emerge from the pandemic while focusing on environmentally sustainable practices. It has a $250 million budget over three years.

H55 has appointed Canadian Martin Larose as its new CEO. Larose had previously been the division president of Nova Bus, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group. He had also been director of aircraft operations for Bombardier.

H55 plans to fully commercialize its electric propulsion system by the end of 2024.

The aerospace industry employs approximately 230,000 people across Canada, according to CED.

H55 has already flown four electric planes, breaking 14 world records on distance, altitude and duration.

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