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Urban Air Mobility at Rising Point: eVTOL

The possibility of efficient and sustainable air transport between strategic locations in urban and suburban environments is taking leaps and bounds. A new class of vehicle is finally emerging which has the potential to transform the way people and cargo are moved in cities. eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) are electric vehicles that can be fully autonomous, environmentally friendly, and quiet.

Thanks to the latest advances in materials, electric motors and battery technology, electric aircraft are more possible than ever. This is how traditional aerospace companies and new companies are developing eVTOL models, as these vehicles rely on simple propulsion units of electric motors and in some cases fixed-pitch propellers, manufacturers expect lower operating costs.

Applications for eVTOL technology are diverse and possible in different markets. Air taxi service is one of the initial business models considering moving passengers and cargo between cities, with the advantage of zero emissions and very low sound levels. At the same time, it is expected that it will become an essential tool to public services agencies in applications such as firefighting, public safety, search, and rescue, and others.

The technology used by these vehicles will allow, in cases like Joby's piloted vehicle, to load 4 passengers (plus pilot) and travel at 322km/ph. with a range of more than 241km.

Like Joby Aviation, other major companies in the industry are developing electric models. For instance, Boeing has focused its efforts on CityAirbus, its 4-passenger model with its first flight scheduled for 2023. German Lilium Jet model is able to provide different options of cabin configurations for passengers.

At the production end, test flights continue their final stage, and each model shall comply with current safety standard delimited by Aerospace authorities. In the meantime, several eVTOL flight training companies are presenting initiatives to provide the necessary training for the more than 60,000 pilots that the industry forecasts in the next 10 years. It is a period where it is very likely that national regulators will require a pilot on board. Thus, pilots are expected to be certified directly related to eVTOL type; some vehicles designs are rotorcraft while other companies are basing design on fixed wing. some manufactures have also pointed out and agreed with different various CAA on the emphasis on a new practical skill set and using the latest digital flight training aides.

OEM [Original Equipment manufacturers] are progressively accomplishing execution phases to pursue certifications as soon as eVTOL regulations are finalized by FAA and EASA. Joby and Archer Aviation are planning to launch their air taxi services to the market in 2024. While important cities such as Houston, Orlando and Los Angeles have already announced infrastructure plans and to support the new traffic era.

Countries are also backing up initiatives such as Urban-Air Port to build mini airports in strategic locations. In England, the world first eVTOL hub, located In Coventry, was just unveiled. With predictions for 430,000 vehicles operating by 2040 around the world, ground infrastructure design is giving first results and planning towards sustainable air mobility.

eVTOL Embraer/Eve’s backlog orders are ascending quickly and approximately 1,785 are expected to enter the market in the years to come. While VA-X4 model from Vertical Aerospace has sold 1,350 flying taxis. Among the list of interested customers, airline carriers such as American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, GOL, etc. are far exceeding initial market expectations.


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