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How big of a deal is the Textron-Pipistrel deal?

The move by Textron to buy electric aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel is undoubtedly huge for the innovative Slovenian company, as one of the largest conglomerates in aviation looks toward the future. But how big of a deal is this for Textron and private aviation in general? Well, of all of the efforts out there to technologically advance the industry, this one might now be the biggest lift. In the announcement, Textron said it will be spinning off a new division, Textron eAviation, which the company says will focus on developing sustainable aircraft. Providing the muscle of Beechcraft and Bell and Cessna to an e-aircraft maker that already developed the world's first type-certified electric-powered plane could be the exact warp whistle needed to take an already rapidly expanding field to a never-before-seen level. Citing data from McKinsey andamp; Company showing a record $7 billion invested into future air mobility in 2021 - double the amount in the decade prior, Dean Donovan wrote recently for Forbes that the deal could trigger a buying spree among aircraft makers of the companies developing the most promising offerings in the electronic arena. "The merger could have a substantial impact on the electric aviation industry," he wrote. "Making real progress flying will help accelerate the development of demand in electric aircraft markets." The McKinsey piece notes that even with big money pouring into the space, there is still room for even more money to be made -- with 2021 seeing orders and options placed for more than 6,800 aircraft worth more than $26 billion in potential sales.PREVIOUS STORY: Textron to acquire Pipistrel in move to accelerate electric aircraft developmentPREVIOUS STORY: Pipistrel Earns First Electric Type Certificate from EASAPlane and Pilot Magazine Editor in Chief Isabel Goyer notes the importance of the deal because mighty Textron now has its hands on the only in-production, certified electric airplane, something that Airbus, Embraer, Airbus and the others do not have. That's another point in favor of Donovan's prediction of a potential arms race. Goyer says in the uncertainty there will be winners and losers, but that it underscores that time is approaching for all aircraft makers, small and large, to act or risk getting left behind. "Where will Textron go with this? Straight up is my guess," she wrote. "In addition to its Velis Electro trainer, Pipistrel has been working on air mobility eVTOL designs, which look promising. Textron immediately joins that game." Seth Weintraub, publisher of Electrick, which tracks developments in the electric vehicle industry, notes Pipistrel's three decades in the industry developing conventional small aircraft, and he believes that could lead to some breakthrough offerings carrying traditional brand names. "The Taurus is more of a powered glider configuration but the Alpha and Velis are high wing-body type similar to the iconic Cessna 172 from Textron," wrote Weintraub, who is also a private pilot. "That's why I think (an) eCessna would be the next logical step here, and I'm here for it." While the big buy for a big aviation company might carry some big risks, the ripples it makes in pushing all-electric aircraft offerings onto a runway near you might be an even bigger impact than the otherwise mere acquisition once we look back in time on this.
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