SAO PAULO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Electric aircraft maker Eve Holding Inc (EVEX.N) is "on track" to meet its goal of starting commercial operations in 2026, an executive said on Friday, and getting its aircraft certificated is the most immediate target.
Eve's vice president of services & fleet operations, Luiz Mauad, told Reuters in an interview he expects authorities in 2023 to make progress on establishing rules for the sector, which would pave the way for certification "in a few years".
Eve, controlled by Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA (EMBR3.SA), last year launched a process for Brazil's civil aviation regulator to certify its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which has already amassed a backlog of over 2,700 orders prior to the start of production.
"Of course entering service is an important milestone, but before that comes the certification. And certifying an airplane, even a traditional one, is always a huge challenge," Mauad said ahead of the MRO Latin America event in Buenos Aires.
Eve is confident about the "robust project," which is backed by Embraer's expertise, said Mauad, reiterating the goal of starting operations in 2026.
He said Eve already had the cash needed for the project, initially slated to cost $540 million, following a listing in the United States and additional funding from Brazil's state development bank BNDES.
Eve debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in May 2022 after combining its business with Zanite Acquisition Corp, raising around $400 million to manufacture its flying taxis. BNDES later announced it would grant Eve an additional 490 million reais ($94.47 million).
Eve's investors include United Airlines (UAL.O), Acciona SA (ANA.MC), SkyWest Inc (SKYW.O), Bradesco BBI, Rolls-Royce (RR.L), Thales (TCFP.PA) and BAE Systems (BAES.L).
"We have a solid base of investment to make our project, company and products, viable," said Mauad, noting Eve has also been working on solutions such as a software for air traffic management.
"The investment we have already raised gives us peace of mind to develop all these products until they are put into service," he said. "Further investments may come, if needed, but we are still in a very comfortable position."
Consulting firm McKinsey said recently that additional funding would be important for players in the sector this year. Eve's peers include Joby Aviation Inc (JOBY.N), Vertical Aerospace Ltd , Lilium NV and Archer Aviation Inc (ACHR.N).
McKinsey in a report also hinted at potential consolidation, saying mergers and business closures could be seen as "players mature and it may become clearer what technologies, designs, and business models are likely to succeed".
Mauad acknowledged a consolidation process could happen in the sector, but noted Eve was still particularly focused on working through its partnerships.