With a rich history of aircraft manufacturing dating back to the heady days of aviator Enoch Thulin, who built 99 airplanes in Landskrona during the First World War, southern Sweden is on the cusp of an aerospace renaissance.
After decades of innovation spearheaded by companies such as Saab Aerosystems, the spotlight is now on Blackwing Sweden AB and its ultralight, two-seater airplane, which is capturing the affection of enthusiasts in private aviation across Europe.
Manufactured in Eslöv, 20 kilometres from Malmö in the Skåne region, Blackwing is the brainchild and passion project of its visionary founder Niklas Anderberg – an aerospace engineer who dreamt of designing his own airplane while working at Saab some 15 years ago.Business Sweden and Invest in Skåne arranged site visits, facilitated contacts and helped us to fast-track a finance solution.
In many ways, Anderberg is the archetypal 21st century aviation pioneer. He unveiled his prototype model ECO1 in 2011 and, shortly after, assembled a team of skilled technicians to begin commercial production.
With a price tag of 210,000 Euro and a soaring demand from Germany and France, Blackwing is on a growth trajectory. The airplane’s remarkable specs include a carbon fibre fuselage that won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2016.
Using carbon fibre instead of fibre glass or aluminium means that Blackwing achieves an empty weight of just 325 kilograms and consumes less fuel than a modern car. At the same time, this single-engine aircraft packs a serious punch – featuring a tested top speed of 400 km/h, digitised GPS instruments and a 10-hour flight range.
It is no surprise that Blackwing is attracting more and more fans. For example, the airplane requires just 150 metres of runway for take-off and landing which, as Anderberg points out, is opening up a new horizon for pilots.
“Most small aircraft need landing strips of at least 600 metres. As Blackwing requires just a fourth of that length, it enables point to point travel as more airfields become available. You can even land in rural fields,” he explains.
NAVIGATING GROWTH: NEW FACTORY IN SKÅNE
Having designed a premium ultralight airplane, won international awards and set up a busy manufacturing site, Niklas Anderberg may come across as the aviator who has it all. But he’s wasting no time in getting to the next stage.
At Blackwing’s plant in Eslöv, currently housed in rented premises, the airplane’s fuselage is constructed using a textured carbon fibre material called Textreme from a specialist supplier in Borås, 60 kilometres from Gothenburg.
The fuselage sections are moulded and then glued together while testing is carried out using advanced computer modelling and simulation. Even the cabling is made from Swedish carbon fibre. “I can carry a fully equipped wing of this airplane under one arm,” says Anderberg proudly.
Blackwing has sold 20 airplanes so far and orders are expected to rise. To cope with spiking demand, the executive team decided to lay the groundwork for a new, scalable aircraft factory that would enable production ramp-up and increased flexibility.
The preparations were set in motion by one of Anderberg’s partners, Kurt Sillén, who is an investor and board member at Blackwing as well as a skilled pilot.
The choice of expanding in southern Sweden, he says, was a “no brainer”.
“All of Blackwing’s engineers have their roots in the Skåne region. Sweden has a strong tradition of both aircraft manufacturing and carbon fibre development. Our proximity to European customers also makes it a perfect base from which to operate.”
ABOUT BLACKWING SWEDEN
Blackwing Sweden is a leading manufacturer of advanced ultralight and light-sport aircraft with operations in Eslöv, Skåne County, Sweden. The company’s aircraft design is based on a pre-peg carbon fibre airframe which is the lightest and strongest in its class. Blackwing currently employs 11 engineers and technicians.
- Skilled competence in carbon fibre development
- Strong tradition of aircraft manufacturing
- High-tech industrial environment and thriving R&D sector
- Close proximity to customers in continental Europe
Business Sweden and Invest in Skåne helped Blackwing lay the building blocks for growth. Site identification, expert advice and key contacts for scaling manufacturing operations gave Blackwing a blueprint for reaching out to a wider customer base.