Taxiing For Takeoff: The Promise of eVTOLs

Concept of a passenger drone flying above the New York. City transport of future. Air taxi. Photo with 3d rendering object. Elements of this image furnished by NASA
Flying cars are very easy to hype. Most images of the future almost always include mass mobility in the air. It is one of the staples of any depiction of advanced modern societies and a trope of almost every science fiction movie or book (however dystopian). It is an exciting time where the level of technological advancement is reaching the stage of making electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft a feasible reality.
 
However, considerable advancements, such as in battery energy density and charging capabilities, distributed electric propulsion systems, composite materials, and mass aircraft manufacture, are still required to make widespread deployment a reality. There are also many challenges not related to the technical feasibility of making an eVTOL fly, which will also need to be addressed, including certification of aircraft and parts, regulation of operations, public acceptance, and the development of ground infrastructure. IDTechEx's new report, "Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Aircraft 2024-2044: Technologies, Players", is intended to help companies understand the exciting emerging urban air mobility (UAM) market.
 
Many of the world's largest aerospace and automotive companies are ramping up their interest in eVTOL aircraft, recognizing it as a potentially disruptive new transport mode. The major aerospace suppliers, RTX Corporation, GE, SAFRAN, and Honeywell, are all investing in eVTOL-related technologies, including electric and hybrid-electric powertrain components, systems for autonomous flight, and advanced air traffic management systems. Furthermore, composite material manufacturers like Toray and Hexcel have been working with OEMs on the advanced lightweight materials required for several facets of eVTOL design. The automotive industry is also taking an interest, with Toyota, Hyundai, Stellantis, XPeng, Suzuki, and Honda all funding, collaborating on, or conducting their own eVTOL projects.
 
Hundreds of concepts of eVTOL aircraft have been introduced in recent years. However, very few have actually flown, and even fewer have any outlook for certification, commercial launch, or operations at scale. Some handful of eVTOL companies hope to receive regulatory certification for their eVTOLs by the middle of the decade. The years leading up to 2024 saw some OEMs finishing the assembly of type-conforming eVTOLs, which is an important step on the path to achieving the type certification required to begin commercial passenger operations. Full-scale demonstrators have also been made by few OEMs. These demonstrators are usually larger and more advanced than scale models or prototypes, representing a significant step towards the eventual commercialization of eVTOL aircraft.
 
In 2023, companies also took steps forward with production facilities, announcing site-specific plans. Manufacturers are also improving the chances of scale-up by taking steps to make production more efficient, which will enable more rapid production of serial aircraft and aircraft systems at lower costs. Those to market first will have the opportunity to be the face of this electrifying new market as a brand leader at the technological forefront. The advent of this market also opens up a new value chain that will support the successful commercial operations of eVTOLs.
 
The advanced air mobility ecosystem will power a new value chain. Source: IDTechEx
 
Much of the focus for batteries has been on cost per energy storage (for example, dollar per kilowatt-hour). But for aviation, which fights a constant battle against gravity, the metric of energy density (watt-hour per kilogram) is even more essential. The industry must achieve the battery performance required to sustain electric vertical takeoff and landing. To enable this, battery density must nearly double from today's approximately 200 watt-hours per kilogram, and these batteries must achieve aviation-grade safety standards. This is critical to reduce the noise and cost of operating these vehicles.
 
IDTechEx's new report, "Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Aircraft 2024-2044: Technologies, Players", provides comprehensive detail from the basic pros and cons of the different electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft design architectures, through to more nuanced detail on opportunities in key enabling technologies, such as aviation grade batteries, advanced electric motors and propulsion systems, composite materials and eVTOL ground infrastructure. Along with information and insight into the eVTOL air taxi market, this report contains IDTechEx's 20-year outlook for eVTOL air taxi sales, market revenue, battery demand, and battery market revenue.
 
To find out more about this report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/airtaxis.
 
For the full portfolio of electric vehicle market research from IDTechEx, please see www.IDTechEx.com/Research/EV.
 
IDTechEx provides trusted independent research on emerging technologies and their markets. Since 1999, we have been helping our clients to understand new technologies, their supply chains, market requirements, opportunities and forecasts. For more information, contact research@IDTechEx.com or visit www.IDTechEx.com.
 
Upcoming free-to-attend webinar
Unlocking the Skies: The Promise of eVTOLs and Urban Air Mobility
 
Shazan Siddiqi, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx and author of this article, will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Wednesday 1 May 2024 - Unlocking the Skies: The Promise of eVTOLs and Urban Air Mobility.
 
This IDTechEx webinar will focus on the core challenges and opportunities in this emerging industry. While many hurdles remain for passenger advanced air mobility, entrepreneurs, incumbents, and other industry stakeholders are prepared to tackle them. The path to designing and certifying a viable aircraft can be technically challenging and capital intensive. Few sectors of aerospace are as fast-paced as advanced air mobility, but as market entry draws closer, the stakes are only rising. Certification progress, cash consumption and preparations for production and operation are coming to a head.
 
Shazan Siddiqi, will present analysis of this rapidly developing market, with insights from the new IDTechEx report "Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Aircraft 2024-2044: Technologies, Players".
 
The webinar will address the following points:
  • Introduction to urban air mobility and air taxi services
  • The different eVTOL aircraft design architectures
  • Key enabling technologies: batteries / motors / charging infra / composite materials
  • Market landscape and ongoing projects
  • Overview of IDTechEx's 20-year outlook for the eVTOL market
 
Please click here to check timings and register for your specific time zone.
 
If you are unable to make the date, please register anyway to receive the links to the on-demand recording (available for a limited time) and webinar slides as soon as they are available.