Norco to build fuselage, wings and composite components for Skyfly eVTOL aircraft

Skyfly aims to achieve a complete airframe weight of just 220 kilograms, in addition to low-cost, accurate and reliable repeatability of manufacture for series production progression.  


CAD rendering of the Axe fuselage. Photo Credit: Skyfly

Skyfly Technologies Ltd. (London, U.K.) has chosen Norco Composites (Poole, Dorset, U.K.) to build and manufacture the fuselage, wings and composite components of the Axe two-seat electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. With the order now placed, Skyfly expects to have the first aircraft built by June 2023 which falls in line with the company’s timelines.

Norco boasts 35 years experience as a developer of lightweight composite structures and innovative glass fiber polymer (GRP) moldings. Norco’s operation covers six sites in the U.K. with an overall capacity of 130,000 square feet and more than 170 skilled workers. Norco has experience providing lightweight composite structures for some of the world’s leading OEMs in the aerospace, defense and marine markets

Skyfly aims to achieve a complete airframe weight of just 220 kilograms for Axe. Such a low-weight structure can only be achieved through the use of lightweight composites, which retain the crash-proofing and structural strength required. 

“The Skyfly Axe eVTOL fuselage main shell is built in one piece using resin
infusion, which provides low void content and lightweight moldings at low cost,” William Brooks, CTO at Skyfly, explains. “A sandwich structure and unidirectional (UD) carbon [fiber] is used to reinforce the skin. The skin in the cockpit area uses hybrid carbon/aramid [fiber] which improves impact resistance. The internal structure includes a tunnel which provides torsional stiffness and frames which distribute point loads (e.g., from the undercarriage and flying surfaces) into the structure. I have had a personally positive experience with Norco some years ago, and their expertise and experience in lightweight composite aerostructures has developed greatly [since then]. We find them responsive, especially in DFM [design for manufacture], resulting in a better product at less cost.”

Brooks adds that using this method of construction also enables low-cost, accurate and reliable repeatability of the aircraft’s main structures — an important result when Skyfly progresses into series production.

“Norco is excited to work with Skyfly in developing the Axe aircraft,” Jason Hunt, project manager, Norco, adds. “UAM [urban air mobility] will see the largest growth in the civil aviation sector in the coming years, and it is aircraft such as the Axe that will provide ground-breaking capability.” He adds that the eVTOL aircraft will enable Norco to leverage its skills and capabilities in the manufacture of advanced composite structures. Norco has been involved in a number of UAM platforms and sees the relationship with Skyfly as a natural progression in the development and manufacture in this space.