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Sector Report

Q1 2022: eVTOL gaining ground

  • Private Equity
  • Industrials
  • North America

Plans to digitise and automate airspace, including technologies for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), are gaining ground. Both Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation have achieved G-1 certification, propelling them towards their goal of obtaining FAA certification for eVTOL aircraft. But experts interviewed by Third Bridge Forum note there is a long journey ahead before true commercialisation is reached.

From a vehicle perspective, “the technology is there”. However, for eVTOL to take off at scale, several other developments must happen, namely in ground infrastructure and airspace technologies, an executive at The Aviary Project told us. “Looking at the airspace side, unmanned traffic management is the new deal,” they added. Shifting to digital will require “all kinds of drones, all kinds of eVTOLs connected to an unmanned traffic management system”. In essence, a radical redesign of airspace as we know it.

Ground infrastructure will be particularly challenging to overhaul, we were told, as real estate development cycles currently take around 20 years. The Aviary Project executive said although companies including Ferrovial, Skyports and Luxaviation are making great strides here, “this is what the industry is going to struggle”. This is not so much a problem in the US, we heard, due to there being more space available. “But if you look at Europe, if you look at a city like London, there are a lot of ordinances and rules and regulations around modifying existing buildings because of historical value,” the specialist added. “This is going to be a problem, so you need to really look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

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