The science-fiction-esque portrayal of flying cars in movies and tv shows might just not be a thing of the past anymore. Advancements in the auto and aeronautical industries have already begun to design faster and more efficient ways of transportation that use rotors instead of wings and allow for vertical takeoff and landing. Basically, these electrically powered vehicles are considered to be similar to helicopters, but smaller, and more cost and energy-efficient.
Paving the way for a future that could accelerate and improve how the world operates, electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) are gaining increasing traction by the brightest engineers around the world. In fact, eVTOLs could be the next trillion-dollar industry.
The Emergence of Transformative eVTOLs
Not too far in the future, we stand to enter a new era in the industry’s ongoing evolution with the emergence of transformative and disruptive flying vehicles. The eVTOLs plan to unlock the skies for commuters and distributors. It is estimated that there are anywhere between 150 and 200 new aircraft programs at various stages of development.
The concept of urban air mobility (UAM) is not a new one. In reality, military drones have already been around for quite some time now, and the use of drones for package deliveries is also being widely tested. Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) builds upon the UAM model and extends beyond the urban environments to bring accessibility to the cities. The idea is essentially to bring AAM air transportation using eVTOL capabilities. Smaller in size, and much quieter than helicopters, the eVTOL aircraft incorporate electric propulsion, electric motors, and simplified electronic controls that improve upon complex transmissions, flight-critical components, and mechanical reliability, all while substantially reducing the manufacturing and operating costs.
These highly automated aircraft (designed for piloted or automated operations) are expected to have widespread implications on our daily life and promise to provide affordable mobility across various sectors. Say good-bye to sitting and waiting in traffic for hours, or waiting endlessly to find parking, eVTOLs will change the way we commute in and around rural and urban areas.
What’s more, these advanced aircraft will further have extensive military and defense applications, as well as reduced cargo and freight shipping costs. Beyond the commuting and defense applications, the autonomous flight operations could lead to new capabilities including humanitarian and public safety assistance, remote sensing, infrastructure inspections, and many more. In addition, the expansion of eVTOLs would also lead to job creations through new markets and services.
A recent Deloitte “Advanced Air Mobility” report published jointly with Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) projected that the eVTOL aircraft industry could create more than 280,000 jobs in the U.S alone by 2035 despite the near-term uncertainty and impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Other similar reports have suggested a similarly positive outlook for the industry in other countries.
The Next Trillion-Dollar Industry
The possibilities that come with flying vehicles can solve innumerable problems for companies and consumers alike. A cost-effective and time-efficient solution is the ultimate goal for the industry leaders.
The market for eVTOLs is predicted to have a significant upward shift in mobility, and the global economy as they gain market shares. Despite the impact of COVID-19, private and public companies and government agencies are pouring billions of dollars of investments into this emerging industry. According to financial data and software company PitchBook, air mobility companies raised a total of $1.5 billion in private investment, an increase of 80 % from the pre-COVID year of 2019.
Ahead of broader certification and government regulatory changes, technology industry giants, as well as start-ups and venture capitalists from several countries, are attracting capital and prioritizing extensive research and development in these advanced aircraft due to its potential economic impact and security implications—even rideshare companies like Uber are staking claims on this burgeoning industry. Creating extensive opportunities for investors and businesses across multiple sectors (aircraft manufacturing, infrastructure, supply chain, fleet management, and software), the addressable market for eVTOL is predicted by Morgan Stanley at $1.5 trillion by 2040 and a more bullish forecast places the market at 2.9 trillion.
Government agencies like National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have already established their role in key research and policy areas, while an array of others have also joined the running, including Uber, Terrafugia, Kitty Hawk, Joby Aviation, Opener, VerdeGo Aero, China’s eHang, the Dutch venture PAL-V, Germany’s Volocopter and Lilium, Slovakia’s AeroMobil, Switzerland’s Passenger Drone, and Japan’s Cartivator Project.
Rising high above the crowd of eVTOL manufacturers is Astro Aerospace with the vision of building “the safest, most reliable, and efficient autonomous eVTOL vehicles for the world market.” Pioneers in their field, Astro Aerospace developed one of the safest, environmentally friendly, and efficient eVTOLs in 2018, the Elroy, with humans on board. Since the first successful flight test, Astro Aerospace announced the acquisition of Horizon Aircraft to propel itself forward as a leader in the eVTOL market. Joining the aircraft, Elroy, the company announced new patented designs and prototypes for aircraft ALTA and CAVORITE X5, with multi-use applications including passenger, cargo, agriculture, med-evac, rescue, military, among others.
After examining the endless economic, social, and national applications and capabilities of eVTOLs in the future, it’s undeniable that the AAM market will continue to mature and grow tremendously.