Luciano Belviso, Founder & CEO of Blackshape Aircraft

BCI4@ Team: Can you share with us about yourself and your career path Mr. Belviso?

Luciano Belviso (LB): I’ve always been fascinated by technologies and by the mobility industry. I earned my degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin and I completed my university studies with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland, and a Master of Laws from the University of Paris XI in France. I believe my curiosity and the desire to grow professionally, encouraged me to travel the world and have my first working experiences in Europe, Russia, Canada, India and South America. For unknown reasons, I think everybody gets “old” when you turn 23, so at 25 I decided to return to Italy and reinvest what I learned in one of my projects, with the dream to create something unique and become a Made in Italy excellence. Funny enough, when you get “old” at 23 you are not really old, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities this season of my life is offering. 

BCI4@ Team: How do you evaluate the future of the ultralight and light aircraft market, especially in the next decade? Also, what is the importance of investing in this area?

Luciano Belviso (LB): With the new Basic Regulation, European countries have the possibility to increase the MTOW of ultralight to 600kg, as Germany did in 2018. This will certainly bring new life to the UL market. Concerning the light aircraft market, I believe the situation is different from country to country, depending on infrastructure and taxation. However, most people probably didn’t realize, that we all face a new era in aviation, due to the investment in technologies and their application to the aviation business. 

For instance, VTOL or electric propulsion will likely have an outcome in the light aircraft market. Even though these technologies are not mature yet, I believe in a short while the traditional feeling of the good and old times of the aviation community will leave the floor to the all-new excitement for what will come next.

A shift of the aviation culture is also likely to be soon, following what happened in the automotive industry. I refer – for instance – to shared mobility or to the experience market.

All these factors will probably contribute to the growth or – I would rather say – to a democratization of the aviation culture which will slowly enter everybody’s life. 

This will be a tremendous opportunity to expand the business to a much larger customer base, which – similarly to the automotive industry – will likely be polarized between those who choose an aircraft to travel from A to B and those who are focused on “how” that travel will be sharing our values in terms of performance, design, overall quality and emotions.

BCI4@ Team: How has COVID-19 affected the ultralight and light aircraft market?

Luciano Belviso (LB):  I believe Covid-19 is acting like an accelerator to bring processes to their outcome. Europe has different fragile markets that are suffering from this pandemic which will probably require attention from regulators, more infrastructure and more aviation culture. If Covid-19 made us aware of this, I think we should act soon. Blackshape has a presence in all continents, but our HQ is in Europe and we’re committed to playing our role also to facilitate rulemaking processes.

BCI4@ Team: What are the areas where Blackshape solutions make a difference in the period of COVID-19 when the search for private flights has increased?

Luciano Belviso (LB):  If we refer to the recreational market, our product has a high positioning, therefore our customers were only marginally affected by Covid-19 (logistics and test flights). We see very similar behaviour with respect to other sectors (i.e. high-end sports cars) where some companies had record sales.

BCI4@ Team: Can you tell us about Prime and Gabriel? What are the differences between them? What are their superior characteristics compared to other aircraft?

Luciano Belviso (LB):  Blackshape Prime is a two-seater ultralight aircraft conceived for the recreational market. We’ve been working hard on its flight performance and details to offer an amazing flight experience and our design is made in Italy. The Prime is a “Supercraft”, unique in its category and already in use in 18 countries worldwide. In Europe, it is possible to pilot it with an ultralight aircraft pilot license. Prime is in use also in different training organizations outside Europe and this brought a lot of experience for our future design. When we started to think about Gabriél we already had the experience of our customers in mind and we wanted to make the perfect ab-initio trainer to suit modern training needs. Thus, the Gabriél is a general aviation aircraft conceived for the training of professional pilots, both civil and military. Thanks to its versatility, Gabriél can also be configured as recreational, for extreme performance lovers, who have a Private Pilot License (PPL). The aircraft has data-recording systems onboard that make it a sort of ‘flying lab’, with state-of-the-art equipment and avionics and with dual controls to carry out a detailed analysis of the cadet’s skills. These features allow Gabriél to fill a gap in the aviation market and train the next generation of cadets.