EVTOL aircraft designs are instrumental in a new movement toward advanced air mobility (AAM) and/or urban air mobility (UAM). AAM is the concept and development of infrastructure for a safe, automated air transportation system for passengers and cargo in urban and rural locations. UAM is a subset of AAM and focuses on lower-altitude operations within urban and suburban areas.
An eVTOL is essentially a personalized helicopter taxi for one or more passengers, but it is much quieter, less polluting, hopefully, safer, cheaper, and (this is key) potentially fully automated, making it ideal for daily commutes and intra-city travel.
Electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles are taking the aviation industry by storm, with an estimated 200 businesses working on them. While vertical lift aircraft have been around for over a century in the shape of helicopters, eVTOLs have the potential to disrupt the $49 billion sector in certain segments due to lower maintenance and operating costs. CNBC spoke with Archer Aviation, a business with United Airlines as an investor, on why these new aircraft could change how people travel.
“Helicopters are very expensive to operate for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that they have multiple points of failure, which eVTOL aircraft won’t,” said Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, which has invested in startups in the space called Eve and Archer Aviation. “The electrification makes the aircraft safer.” “Safer aircraft also become less costly to maintain.”
EVOTLs are not currently on the market, but they have the potential to become future air taxis. Manufacturers must first obtain clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory bodies. Some companies have set the year 2025 as the year when operations will begin.