The rapidly emerging class of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has considerable, and possibly even transformative, market potential. The potential applications for these aircraft are numerous and varied and include passenger and cargo transport, express package delivery, humanitarian relief, emergency medical services, and a host of others. They typically utilize battery-electric, hydrogen-electric, or hybrid propulsion systems.
Many of the developers of the new eVTOL aircraft envision their use within a new concept of air transportation known as advanced air mobility (AAM). The AAM concept involves the use of highly automated aircraft for urban, inter-city, and/or regional transport, as well as for private and recreational aviation and various parapublic missions.
A number of issues do need to be addressed before the full market potential of eVTOL aircraft can be realized. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have already established certification standards for these vehicles. However, operating rules and procedures regarding the use of the aircraft need to be further developed and refined. Such a process will likely involve various levels of government and, among other items, look to ameliorate concerns about airway congestion, especially above crowded urban areas.
Another obstacle to the widespread use of eVTOL aircraft involves the current lack of operating and support infrastructure in most areas. A number of companies are being proactive in addressing this issue. One such initiative was announced in mid-June and involves a partnership between eVTOL aircraft developer Lilium NV and vertiport design and operation specialist UrbanV SpA. The two companies have teamed to develop vertiport infrastructure for the all-electric Lilium Jet, with an initial focus on Italy and the French Riviera, and the potential to expand into additional markets in the future.
Based in Italy, UrbanV already has airport access in Rome, Venice, Bologna, Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, and surrounding areas. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Lilium is developing the Lilium Jet, a seven-seat eVTOL aircraft with a range (including reserves) of 155+ miles.