Supernal, the flying taxi project of Hyundai Motor Group, has opened its futuristic-looking engineering headquarters in Irvine with plans to keep hiring locally.
The company already has 200 employees in Irvine, and expects to add 100 more this year, with the new space able to hold up to 500 workers.
Supernal CEO Jaiwon Shin said the Southern California region “offers a plethora of aerospace talent and beneficial proximity to the aerospace supply chain.
“It’s also home to some of the top schools, which is important as we rapidly grow our technical teams,” Shin told the Business Journal.
Supernal’s new hub is a 105,000-square-foot office at Irvine Co.’s Discovery Park Complex near Sand Canyon Road and the Santa Ana (5) Freeway. It counts an additional 80,000 square feet at Waterworks Way for testing and evaluation.
“We are particularly seeking systems, test and design engineering, technical program management and supplier management expertise,” according to Shin, who is also president of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group.
“We plan to begin initial commercial flights in 2028,” a company spokeswoman said. “The preponderance of the vehicles we sell will be to third-party operators.”The flying taxi will hold four passengers and one pilot to start.
Established in 2020 as the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, Supernal is developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle and the integrated ground-to-air ecosystem to support the emerging flying taxi industry.
The engineering headquarters is one of three permanent facilities Supernal is opening this year, which also include a policy and commercial hub in Washington, D.C., and a primary R&D facility in Fremont.
The four-story Irvine space, which officially opened on July 18, pays homage to Supernal’s forward-looking role in the aviation industry. Details like light fixtures resemble clouds to “create an ethereal ambiance, while flight paths guide employees throughout the space.”
“This strategic location enables us to expand our rapidly growing team of industry experts in aerospace, automotive and deep tech,” Shin said.
Engineers at the site are working on Supernal’s powertrain, airframe, system and safety, test and evaluation as well as several core operations.
The company is seeking engineers with experience in flight control, airframe design, structural analysis, electrical and systems integration for the Irvine site. It was advertising for roughly 60 positions in Irvine as of last week.
Supernal is one of three flying taxi companies in Orange County.
Overair in nearby Santa Ana has 203,000 square feet of space and is looking to fly its first full-scale prototype around the turn of the year as part of its “Butterfly” project (see story, page 16).
Plana, a South Korean company, says it has set up an outpost in Irvine, though few details have been released.
All three are developing electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. Plana says its aircraft is “hybrid-electric” since it also uses sustainable aviation fuel in its powertrain.
While all three are developing vehicles often referred to as flying taxis, the technical classification is Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). That denotes transporters carrying people and some goods more efficiently and quietly than using helicopters, both locally, regionally and between cities.
Flying taxis face a number of regulatory and governmental issues prior to gaining local approval, including issues pertaining to takeoff and landing spots, safety, noise and aerial congestion.