EBACE2022: Executives Confident AAM Will Be Available in Next Few Years

24 May, 2022

Leaders from some of the world’s foremost advanced air mobility (AAM) developers are confident that battery technology advances will continue, regulatory hurdles will keep falling and consumer demand will be there for flights that shuttle people within and between cities, which in some cases could be available in a handful of years.

At a newsmakers luncheon panel moderated award-winning veteran journalist Lisa Stark, the companies
also expressed confidence that AAM and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft would be as safe as commercial aviation.

Costs will fall, too, just as they have with electric vehicles, said Verity Richardson, the head of commercial operations at U.K-based company Vertical Aerospace.

Richardson said while the company’s aircraft will be highly automated, Vertical aircraft will be piloted.

Christian Bauer, the chief operating officer at Volocopter, which is also hoping to fly in Paris for the 2024 Olympics, said the certifications needed from European regulators are clear and “that gives us the opportunity” to plan with partners and determine. He said the goal has to be an aircraft that is cheaper than a helicopter and as safe as commercial aviation.

“We have to take the customer along and show it is safe,” Bauer said.

Sebastien Borel, Vice President Business, Lilium, which is looking to develop regional service between cities, was confident consumer demand would be strong. He said eVTOL aircraft can land in many places, including on top of parking garages and atop buildings.

Bauer said another advantage is that the aircraft can fly into the center of cities, rather than needing to stay on the edges of cities like helicopters.

Diana Cooper, global head of policy and regulations at Supernal, said developers hope to get their regulatory certifications validated across the world because companies intend to operate in multiple markets. Supernal is exploring Los Angeles, CA, and recently entered into an agreement with Miami, FL’s mayor to begin there, said the company, which wants to operate worldwide.

Cooper also said she expected battery technology advancements will continue and the company will be able to meets its goal of launching in 2028.

Borel from Lilium and Christian Mundigler, who runs the FACC’s eVTOL business, both spoke about the redundancy in the technology that will make it safe. Borel said Lilium’s has 30 engines and 10 battery packs. He added that the company used a jet-like design because users prefer that to a helicopter design. Mundigler said FACC has a “triple redundancy” in place to provide a contingency in the event of a power issue.