What sparked your interest in aviation?
I was fortunate to be born into an aviation-loving family, where the passion for flying has passed from generation to generation. Even though I have been surrounded by aircraft from an early age, whenever I see or hear a plane, I am excited. For me, aviation is all about travelling, discovering wild landscapes and sharing these moments with our close ones. I truly enjoy taking friends or family and flying as far as I can. Most of all, I love to fly all over Europe.
Tell us about your career to date
I am not sure whether a career is the right word to sum up my path; it’s more about experiences. After completing science at A-Level-equivalent qualifications in France, I moved to London where I studied aerospace engineering at Kingston University, near London. On a more practical side, since my early childhood, my time was shared between sailing and flying. I have achieved an important number of high-level sailing competitions: inshore, offshore, crewed, single-handed, from small dinghies to big yachts. I have always been a keen flyer, and wanted to become a pilot before I ever took a real flight lesson. In fact, my dad was a flying instructor, so that clearly helped my chances. I have been involved in a lot of project-building and management. I have built my own racing boat and over 20 kit planes and performed maintenance on many aircraft. This vast experience has helped me to create the first aircraft in the Elixir family. A two-seat, light piston-single.
Why did you launch Elixir Aircraft?
After spending an important part of my life building aircraft and interacting with a great number of aircraft owners, I knew that many of them shared the same vision I had about what an aircraft should have - comfort, reliability and performance. Due to my sailing experiences, I knew that some technologies unused in aviation could help us to revolutionise this market by bringing much more value to the customer at a very competitive price.
Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, the financial and regulatory environment was too rigid to launch a company. But following a recovery in the light aircraft market and the introduction around two years ago of EASA's new certification rules for light sport aircraft (CS-LSA), the decision was made to introduce a new aircraft.
How will a newcomer like Elixir take on established players in the crowded and competitive piston-single market?
Customers today are forced to choose between: very old/expensive/slow/heavy metallic or wooden certificated aircraft and 20-year-old ultralights with questionable payload/limited performance/non-lasting composite structure using lots of bonding with questionable longevity and reliability. Elixir is creating a modern aircraft to a very high standard in construction, quality and safety – it has a parachute and anti-explosion bladder tank – comfort, performance, payload, price and maintenance.
Tell us about your typical day
Elixir Aircraft was created 18 months ago and each day is different – I love it. The only ritual that we have is a Monday morning team meeting where we discuss every aspect of the work in detail. This is important, quality time where we give feedback and support one another. There are also some aspects of my life that are consistent, however, such as working in the office each day from 07:00 to 20:00. Since we launched the company, I have had little time to fly in my spare time.
What are your major challenges?
Our major challenge is the planning. We are very confident in the product and the manufacturing process. What we do not know is whether we will get the aircraft to market within our planned timeframe. We hope to have the first prototype built by the end of the year and secure certification in 2017. Although we are aware that every aircraft project comes with some delays, we are fighting and innovating everyday to try to prove that a small company like us, with small initial funding is actually able to make it on schedule.
What are your plans for Elixir going forward?
My dream is to bring our innovative methods to bigger aircraft designs, which would in turn, make flying cheaper, safer and with a lower environmental footprint.
Source: Flight International