Canadian hybrid-electric air taxi developer Horizon Aircraft intends to become a publicly traded company on the US Nasdaq stock market by early 2024, becoming the latest aerospace start-up to pursue go-public plans.

Horizon and a merger partner called Pono Capital Three on 15 August revealed the plan, which they say will leave Horizon better prepared to pursue certification of its in-development Cavorite air taxi.

The deal remains subject to approval by Horizon and Pono shareholders. It calls for Horizon’s parent Robinson Aircraft to merge with already public Pono, a so-called special-purpose acquisition company, according to documents filed with US securities regulators on 15 August by Pono Capital.


Source: Horizon Aircraft

A model of Horizon Aircraft’s Cavorite in-development air taxi

Robinson does business under the Horizon name.

Ontario-based Horizon would emerge from the combination as a public firm, with the deal being completed in the fourth quarter of 2023 or first quarter of 2024, say the documents.

Pono, based in Hawaii, pegs Horizon’s current value at $96 million but predicts that the value of the firm’s stock, once publicly traded, will be $216 million.

Horizon did not immediately respond to a request to confirm details in the documents filed by Pono.

Horizon has been developing the prototype Cavorite X5, a five-seat air taxi, which will travel at 243kt (450km/h) and have 270nm (500km) of range.

But it has recently indicated that it will shift to a larger model, the X7, which will accommodate a pilot and six passengers, believing this is a more commercially-suitable design.

An electric hybrid propulsion system will power the aircraft, which will have wing-mounted lifting props and an aft pusher-prop. The electric system will provide lift during take-off and landing, while the propulsion system will rely exclusively on jet fuel for power during forward flight.

Horizon aims to test a full-scale prototype next year and to have the X7 certificated in 2026 or 2027.

Pono says the go-pubic plan “will promote the expansion of Horizon Aircraft’s business to better position Horizon Aircraft as a global leader in [electric vertical take-off and landing] aircraft technology”.

Special-purpose acquisition companies like Pono are public companies established for the sole purpose of merging with and bringing public promising start-ups – with the goal of raising hefty cash in the process.

Such transactions were wildly popular in recent years, seen as a reliable means for raising hundreds of millions of dollars. Air taxi developers that became public firms through SPAC mergers include Archer Aviation, Eve Holding, Joby Aviation, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace.

The SPAC boom has lately cooled, and some companies that went public through SPAC mergers have since run out of cash, including space-launch start up Virgin Orbit, which in April filed for bankruptcy protection.