The eVTOL (electric Vertical TakeOff and Landing) world is evolving with a fast pace, much faster than we thought less than 2 years ago, especially because several developers had been developing out of the public view until recently.
eVTOL has also developed into much more than it initially visioned.
There has been and are R&D on some 600 different eVTOL designs and Billions of USD has been and are being invested in this new industry. At Copenhagen Helicopter we recognize in a not too distant future our business plan goes electric.
We estimate that of all these some 600 projects, just a few handful will qualify all the way to final certification and production in the EU and/or US, the worlds two major aviation authorities.
Some of this R&D has shown that even with current battery storage technology, a 5-seater eVTOL can fly up to +150 miles on one charge, well beyond what was intended for the services in UAM (Urban Air Mobility).
UAM, RAM and AAM
So UAM is no longer alone, lately RAM (Regional Air Mobility) was added to cover distances further than just the Urban section. Both UAM and RAM are now enclosed by AAM (Advanced Air Mobility), which also includes many other services incl. unmanned drones.
Longer distances opens up for a lot more potential business and services for the public, connecting city, towns, capitals, islands, remote/rural areas a lot better with each other where there is a need permanently or periodically, than possible with land based modes of transportation. And at nearly no cost or pollution for needed infrastructure between departure and arrival points, because eVTOL's needs no roads, rails, tunnels, bridges, expropriation of land etc., making it much better environmentally and humanly.
There is simply no shorter or quicker way from A to B than the straight line done by air.
The path to success
The wing born eVTOL designs meet the three main issues head-on, that kept helicopters to date from being widely accepted by the general public.
- Noise (we can not emphasize enough the importance of this topic)
- Cost per Passenger per Distance
In the near future with scale, ours and others numbers looks like it can approach for example train ticket costs on some routes, if none in comparison has any subsidies applied.
Safety has always and will always be a major part of aviation, why flying has always been one of the safest form of transportation.
With DEP (Distributed Electric Propulsion) introduced in many eVTOL designs, safety is increased significantly over current helicopter designs, because in contrast to helicopter designs, a good eVTOL design has several electric engines distributed directly where propulsion is needed on the aircraft and no shafts and gearboxes to maintain, making a good eVTOL design highly redundant should an engine or component fail.
Relying on critical parts like in a helicopter design, is a major reason why helicopters are costly to operate, because of high maintenance cost of such potential critical components.
EASA published an interesting Social Acceptance survey in 2021 what we can expect the European public will think of eVTOL, UAM/RAM/AAM, when it's rolled-out.
It is worth noticing that despite the public have not yet seen nor heard an eVTOL in operation, out of 599 people asked from the Öresund Region, 80% was rather to very positive and 41% was rather to very likely to try out UAM/AAM services.
We will go into details of this survey in a later article.
Infrastructure has just started to be thought of, but only few places. We notice this risk to be a future lagger for the successful roll-out of eVTOL and Air Mobility.
In many places it needs to shift to a higher gear and catch up with current infrastructure plannings so it can be included in the short- and long term plannings most places has already rolled-out, because the first eVTOL's will be in operation already in this decade.
Having ongoing talks with different people incl. city developers, it seems like many miss the ability to think in 3D mobility-wise, they seem to and maybe for historic reasons only think in 2D, i.e. land/sea based transportation on short distances.
eVTOL part of MaaS
Many city developers, planners and politicians need to become open-minded for the inclusion of Air Mobility, so shared mobility can become both land, sea and air-based, making a true multi-choice democratized MaaS in all three X-Y-Z axes. Or their city, country and communities development could loose over others that already recognize this.
We don't believe its bad intentions but merely lack of knowledge of these upcoming possibilities, why we have created this source of non-political non-biased free information in Air Mobility (eVTOL.dk), relevant to Denmark and The Öresunds Region.
We don't see eVTOL in the US and EU going autonomous from the beginning. To get certified, it will for several years be with pilots onboard like in an airplane or helicopter.
Aviation is conservative especially in regards of safety matters. It likes to gather data, a lot of data, first from known, simplified trusted setups, before it step-by-step open up for more and more like remote-monitored eVTOL to maybe one day autonomous in the future.
We might see other countries go with autonomous very early if not from the start, but that is outside the EU and the US.