THE NEED FOR EVTOL?
Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) offers the promise of a new type of urban transport using airspace as its medium. On-demand air transport is not a new phenomenon. Uber Helicopter Services (US), BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Inc. (US), and Airbus (Netherlands) are some of the companies that offer on-demand air transport services. However, not only are helicopter services expensive, but they have various problems, such as safety issues and noise pollution. eVTOLs work on clean energy and with the use of technologies such as Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), can potentially solve most of these problems.
According to United Nations (UN), rise in population and urban expansion is highly unsustainable and 2/3rd of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2030. This will require high urban transport and on-demand air transport. The challenge of providing basic services and infrastructure is crucial for sustainable urbanization. Present transport infrastructure such as Mass Rapid Transport systems, trains, buses, and flyovers are almost saturated, and building new ones will take years and will require massive investments. The hyperloop project will incur huge infrastructure cost, as well as clearances of existing settlements and revamping of land.
eVTOL aircraft is the solution to these bottlenecks. Not only can they resolve traffic woes and reduce travel time, but they can do so with no carbon footprints.
Airbus (Netherlands), Boeing (US), Intel (US), Amazon (US), Honda (Japan), Toyota (Japan), Uber (US), and multiple other startup companies such as Opener (Canada), Beta Technologies (US), Volcopter GMBH (Germany), Kitty Hawk (US) Aston Martin (UK) have together invested more than USD 1.0 billion till date in developing this technology. Key players are offering high configuration eVTOL aircraft such as Vahana, Nexus, Ava XC, Lilium Jet, Aurora Passenger Air Vehicle.
FIGURE 1 AVERAGE TIME SPENT BY ROADWAY PASSENGERS IN TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN MAJOR CITIES (2017)
Source: Secondary Research and MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
According to Airbus’s Vice President of Urban Air Mobility, Zach Lovering, the demand for eVTOLs is estimated to soar as ground congestion throughout the globe continues to worsen. “It takes two hours to drive to the airport from downtown São Paulo and only 10 mi nutes to fly there in a helicopter,” he noted, adding that the future of mobility is vertical.
VERTICAL AEROSPACE AND ATKINS COLLABORATE TO COMMERCIALIZE EVTOL TECHNOLOGY
In 2018, Vertical Aerospace (UK) became one of the first companies to build and fly a fully electric, full-scale eVTOL aircraft. The company is working toward revolutionizing urban travel and is targeting 2023 for the commercial launch of eVTOL aircraft. Atkins (UK) is a global leader in design, engineering, and project management. Backed by 50 years of experience in the aviation industry, Atkins is collaborating with Vertical Aerospace to design the necessary systems and infrastructure required for the commercial adoption of these aircraft. Similarly, other key players are also working on the eVTOL aircraft projects, few of them mentioned as follows.
TABLE 1 EVTOL AIRCRAFT CURRENTLY UNDER DEVELOPMENT PHASE
Philip Hoare, President of Atkins, said, “As the world’s population continues to grow, our current city transportation models, associated infrastructure and ways of operating will need to adapt to meet unprecedented demand. Vertical Aerospace and Atkins’s pioneering work to take on-demand travel skyward, by developing a system in which eVTOL can operate, has the potential to revolutionize future city and regional transportation.”
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said, “Atkins are the perfect partner to develop this infrastructure from the ground upwards, and we are delighted to be working with them.”
IMPACT OF COLLABORATION IN THE EVTOL MARKET
The investments in the production of eVTOL is expected to have a positive impact on the aviation industry. Developments can be seen with respect to the growing demand for electric driven light and ultra-light aircraft and charging stations. eVTOL aircraft are expected to be launched and operated commercially from 2025, with the piloted mode of operation in the initial period. As per MarketsandMarkets™, eVTOL aircraft market is projected to be USD 12.9 million in 2022 and USD 410.7 million in 2030 at a CAGR of 20.42% between the 2022 and 2030.
FIGURE 2 eVTOL AIRCRAFT MARKET FROM 2022 TO 2030, USD MILLION
Source: MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
eVTOL aircraft market has a strong potential for growth as it is expected to save passenger travel time, reduce congestion on roads for transportation, and reduce carbon footprints at a reasonable cost. However, the market will likely face challenges such as stringent regulations, technology developments such as battery capacity, infrastructure unavailability and lack of capacity. Weather is another factor which will pose the significant challenges for UAM operations as several urban areas have adverse climate conditions such as low visibility, strong winds, and storms.
Atkins (UK) and Vertical Aerospace (UK) will encourage other key players to enter in the European eVTOL market. With their collaboration, they can expand and emerge as a strong alliance which can be a threat to other players. This partnership is expected to support Vertical Aerospace on Atkin’s experience in key aviation projects, specifically for the design and certifications requirement for eVTOL aircraft commercially. This partnership is expected to initiate the foundation of eVTOL transport by covering aviation infrastructure, operating models, intelligent mobility, passenger experience, and cybersecurity.