It’s fun to dream about a future in which we might end our workday on the East Coast and make it to Paris for dinner.
But several Atlanta aerospace engineers turned entrepreneurs are working right now to make this a reality right from their workspace at the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport. Hermeus Corporation, which is developing Mach 5 aircrafts, just announced it has closed a $16 million Series A round in order to help bring their prototype to the skies.
The round was led by Bay Area-based Canaan Partners, a VC firm focused on early stage startups. Canaan joins existing investors Khosla Ventures, Bling Capital, and the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
For the non-aerospace enthusiasts out there, reaching Mach 5 would be a big deal for international trade and travel. For reference, a standard commercial 747 plane hits about 570 miles per hour, and the Concorde peaked at Mach 2 (just over 1,300 miles per hour). An aircraft traveling at Mach 5, or over 3,000 miles per hour, would make it from New York to Paris is 90 minutes.
According to Hermeus’ website, Mach 5 technology and improved human transporation could help increase global GDP by 2%, which translates to $4 trillion.
Building an aircraft that can travel five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), is no doubt ambitious for any large corporation, let alone a Southeast-based startup. But the Hermeus team was born in Atlanta in 2018 due to the city’s unique talent pool and geography.
Co-founder and COO Skyler Shuford told Hypepotamus that the company’s founders met while working in Atlanta. “When we started Hermeus, we decided to stay because of a few things: Atlanta is a transportation/logistics hub (Hartsfield-Jackson, Delta, UPS), the large aerospace manufacturing base in the Southeast, and it’s a great city to recruit to since you can find anything from farm land to nightlife,” said Shuford.
The team successfully tested their engine prototype back in February, and the new funding will help them scale up and ground test their engine.
Over the summer, Hermeus started a partnership with the U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to bring their Mach 5 aircraft technology to Air Force One.
“Hermeus has consistently hit aggressive milestones on short timelines – anyone familiar with the industry should be impressed by their progress and innovative approach to product iteration. The technology has the potential to accelerate capabilities at the same scale we saw in rockets and satellites over the last decade. It is thrilling to imagine a world where airplanes travel five times faster than they do today,” said Rich Boyle, General Partner at Canaan, in a press statement. “This is the team – with deep industry experience and a vision for what’s possible – best positioned to deliver us Mach 5 flight.”
We asked Shuford about what the new funding means for the team. For him, the funding represents a lot of new opportunities for growth. “There are so many things to be excited about. Scaling up a tight-knit team of badasses. Expanding our test facilities at PDK Airport. Developing the engine that will go on our first aircraft. And making fire is always fun.”