Revolutionising Air Travel: The development and rise of eVTOL Aircraft
The development and rise of eVTOL Aircraft
When will we see the eVTOL flying? The future of air travel is undergoing a paradigm shift, with the advent of Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These innovative vehicles are set to redefine urban mobility, offering efficient and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional modes of transportation. As a leader in Sustainable aviation solutions, JetFlo is well positioned to be at the forefront of this next major evolution of transportation and follows the development of eVTOL aircraft with great interest and passion. In Europe, a region known for its advanced technological landscape and commitment to sustainability, eVTOLs are gaining momentum as key players race to develop and deploy these cutting-edge aerial vehicles. In this article, our Aviation experts at JetFlo will delve into the concept of eVTOLs, explore the major players in their development, track the progression of their innovation, and highlight the anticipated benefits for our private jet clients in Europe.
The eVTOL Concept: What is an eVTOL?
Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft represent a child’s dream. Who never dreamed of flying cars? They are a new class of vehicles that combine the vertical takeoff capabilities of helicopters with the electric propulsion systems of modern electric aircraft. These vehicles are designed to be compact, quiet, and energy-efficient, making them ideal for short-distance urban air travel. By eliminating the need for traditional runways, eVTOLs can take off and land vertically, reducing congestion at airports and enabling point-to-point travel within cities allowing to make your travels even more efficient.
Key Players and Development Progression
Currently, there are almost 400 projects of eVTOL development in the world at various development stages. Several prominent companies are leading the charge in the development of eVTOL aircraft in Europe. Notable players include:
- Airbus Urban Air Mobility: Airbus, a major player in the aviation industry, is actively developing its eVTOL concept, known as the CityAirbus. With the goal of providing on-demand urban air transportation, Airbus has made significant strides in testing and prototype development.
The CityAirbus, developed by Airbus, is a high-capacity eVTOL designed for urban air mobility. It features a quadcopter configuration with four sets of large rotors for vertical lift. The aircraft is capable of carrying multiple passengers, making it suitable for short-haul urban transportation. The design focuses on safety, efficiency, and scalability. The CityAirbus aims to address urban congestion by providing an efficient aerial transit option between key points within cities. Airbus has been conducting rigorous testing and has achieved successful unmanned test flights, showcasing the viability of their eVTOL concept.
- Volocopter: Based in Germany, Volocopter has created an electric multicopter featuring 18 rotors for vertical flight. The company has conducted successful test flights and has showcased its capabilities in various public demonstrations.
The design is characterised by its circular cabin that seats two passengers and a pilot. Volocopter’s approach prioritises simplicity and redundancy in its propulsion system to ensure safety. The aircraft is designed for short-distance urban flights and has completed numerous successful test flights, including those with passengers on board. Volocopter envisions its eVTOLs operating within a comprehensive air taxi network, providing seamless transportation within cities.
- Lilium: A Munich-based startup, Lilium, focuses on developing an eVTOL jet capable of both vertical takeoff and jet-powered horizontal flight. The company’s innovative approach has garnered attention and investment from major stakeholders.
The aircraft features a fixed-wing design with tilt-jet engines that allow it to transition between vertical and horizontal flight modes. This design enables higher speeds and longer ranges than some other eVTOL configurations. Lilium has conducted successful test flights of its prototype, demonstrating the feasibility of its innovative concept. The company envisions its jet as a means of efficient regional travel connecting cities and suburbs.
- Vertical Aerospace: This UK-based company aims to provide efficient air taxi services using its eVTOL design. With a strong focus on safety and certification, Vertical Aerospace is a prominent player in the European eVTOL landscape.
The aircraft features a sleek and streamlined design with multiple rotors for vertical lift and a single large rotor for horizontal propulsion. Vertical Aerospace places a strong emphasis on safety and certification, working closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that its eVTOL design meets the required standards. The company aims to provide an accessible and efficient urban transportation solution with its eVTOL aircraft.
- Joby Aviation: The California-based aerospace company that has been working on developing its eVTOL aircraft for urban air mobility. The company’s eVTOL design features a unique tilt-rotor configuration, where multiple rotors can tilt to provide both vertical takeoff and landing as well as efficient forward flight. This design aims to combine the benefits of helicopters and airplanes to create a versatile and efficient mode of urban transportation.
Joby has been conducting a series of successful test flights with its eVTOL prototype and has received significant investment and partnerships, including a partnership with Toyota. The company has been working on securing certification from aviation authorities and has shown progress towards commercialising their aircraft for urban air mobility services. In a press release dated June 28, 2023 Joby announced that they have received a Special Airworthiness Certificate for the first aircraft built at its facility in California allowing Joby to start flight testing of its first production prototype, paving the way to customer delivery in 2024.
Joby has also announced plans for creating an integrated ecosystem that includes not only the aircraft but also the infrastructure and operations necessary for air taxi services. This approach aims to provide a comprehensive solution for urban transportation needs.
- Fleasy: Originating in France, is designing an eVTOL aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and equipped with a liquid hydrogen tank. This aircraft’s 1000km range challenges the limitations of short flights, expanding its utility to extended journeys. Designed to accommodate both a pilot and 4 passengers, Fleasy caters to a range of travel needs. The aircraft’s full glass cockpit offers an immersive 270-degree view, enhancing the flying experience. Furthermore, its unique biplane tailsitter architecture, featuring fixed wings and motors, eliminates most mechanical risks and allows for both vertical and classical takeoff & landing. Rigorous ground and sea tests of its ½ scale prototypes underscore its practicality, positioning Fleasy as a potential solution for efficient, silent 0 emission air travel. First commercial flight is expected in 2028.
These companies represent just a subset of the growing landscape of eVTOL development in the world. Each of these eVTOL concepts is pushing the boundaries of aviation technology, focusing on creating safe, efficient, and sustainable modes of urban transportation. As technology advances and regulatory frameworks evolve, the dream of eVTOL aircraft becoming a common sight in the skies of European cities inches closer to reality.
Anticipated Benefits for Private Jet Clients in Europe
The adoption and development of eVTOL aircraft holds immense promise for private jet clients in Europe, offering a range of benefits:
- Time Efficiency: eVTOLs can significantly reduce travel time between urban centers by avoiding congested roads and traditional airport procedures. Private jet clients can enjoy swift point-to-point travel, saving valuable time.
- Environmental Sustainability: Electric propulsion systems minimise carbon emissions and noise pollution, aligning with Europe’s commitment to sustainable transportation. Private jet clients can travel with a reduced environmental footprint.
- Urban Accessibility: eVTOLs are designed for vertical takeoff and landing, enabling them to operate from helipads or designated urban vertiports. This accessibility ensures that private jet clients can reach destinations in city centers and remote areas alike.
- Reduced Infrastructure Investment: eVTOLs do not require lengthy runways, reducing the need for massive airport infrastructure investments. This cost-effectiveness could translate to more competitive pricing for private jet clients.
- Enhanced Comfort: The compact design of eVTOLs allows for customisation, ensuring a comfortable and luxurious experience for private jet clients during their travels.
When will the eVTOL be available for the public?
Of course, creating or selling an eVTOL is not sufficient. eVTOLs require extensive ground infrastructure and automated controls, thus operating them involves much more than just purchasing them in large quantities. Additionally, suitable legislation must be passed to permit such operations, a task that has repeatedly shown to be exceedingly challenging to complete in a timely manner.So, where might we anticipate seeing the first eVTOL service pop up?
According to Volocopter latest press release: Groupe ADP & Volocopter, alongside the French Civil Aviation Authority and Paris Region (DGAC), have confirmed that the launch of the first eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft services over Paris Region skies in summer 2024 is on track to be available during the 2024 Olympics making the development of eVTOL aircraft a reality.
The service will start with 3 connection routes and two tourist round trip flights.
- Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport <> Paris-Le Bourget airport; integrating successfully into the skies of Europe’s busiest airport
- Vertiport of Austerlitz barge <> Paris Heliport, integrating a connection over the densely populated urban area of Paris
- Paris Heliport <> Airfield of Saint-Cyr-l’École (Versailles); validating the route potential for tourism use cases
In addition, Tourist round trip flights will be offered from:
- Paris Heliport
- Paris Le Bourget
Operations in Paris will begin from five vertiports and will gradually grow to cover the whole Paris region over the next decade. VoloCity aircraft, which have capacity for one pilot and one passenger, will be flying at heights below 500 m and will not be audible from ground level in urban environments.
Below is a Map of the VoloCity’s routes in Paris available on voloCity’s website.
It is unknown today if Volocopter will maintain his operations over Paris after the Olympics. Joby has now reviewed his predictions and are aiming to start its first regular service in 2025 during the World Expo 2025 in Osaka.
JetFlo is convinced that the development of eVTOL aircraft is poised to reshape the World air travel landscape, offering private jet clients a new level of convenience, efficiency, and sustainability. As key players continue to refine their designs, conduct test flights, and seek regulatory approvals, the prospect of flying in electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft becomes increasingly tangible and JetFlo aims to become one of the first broker to offer eVTOL booking solutions. With benefits ranging from reduced travel time to enhanced environmental responsibility, eVTOLs aircraft hold the potential to elevate the flying experience for private jet clients across Europe and the world.