Textron eAviation has begun assembly of the wings and fuselage of its Nexus electric air taxi as development activities on the programme gather pace.

Revealed in its latest guise in October 2022, the three-passenger Nexus is earmarked for service around 2030.

Textron eAviation Nexus Exterior

Source: Textron eAviation

Nexus is designed to carry three passengers on flights of around 100nm

Speaking to analysts as it disclosed its full-year earnings on 24 January, Scott Donnelly, chief executive of parent company Textron, highlighted investment in Nexus as responsible for growing losses in the eAviation business.

For 2023, Textron eAviation saw losses increase to $63 million from $24 million a year earlier on turnover that doubled to $32 million from $16 million in 2022.

Donnelly says the negative position will persist in 2024, predicting a loss of $25 million on revenue of $50 million.

“What’s driving the losses is these investments in R&D, particularly around the Nexus programme, [which is] something that won’t generate revenue probably for several years,” he says.

However, he flagged “good progress” with the aircraft, adding: “We’ve also begun the assembly and wings and fuselage build on the Nexus in Wichita.”

Textron eAviation is also spending on the development of the Pipistrel Nuuva V300 – a hybrid-electric unmanned cargo aircraft. Although set to fly in 2024, Donnelly notes the platform is “a few years from revenue”.

Textron acquired Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel in 2022, merging it with the rest of its eAviation business.

Pipistrel performed strongly in 2023, delivering 135 aircraft, up from 61 the previous year.

Donnelly forecasts another strong year in 2024 for Pipistrel which will see shipments “roughly doubling” against 2023’s output.

“I think the product line-up at Pipistrel is doing quite well. We’re expanding distribution channels. It’s a relatively small business, but it’s doing well,” he says.

Although a growing part of Textron, eAviation is still dwarfed by the company’s other aerospace units.

Textron Aviation, which owns the Beechcraft and Cessna brands, made a profit of $649 million on revenue of $5.3 billion, while helicopter manufacturer Bell saw profit of $320 million on $3.1 billion revenue.