Electric Vertical Take-Off Landing (eVTOL)

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An electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is a variety of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically. This technology came about thanks to major advances in electric propulsion (motors, batteries, fuel cells, electronic controllers) and the growing need for new vehicles for urban air mobility (air tax). Examples are being developed by aircraft companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and NASA.

Applications

Civilian

Most civilian eVTOL aircraft are designed for urban air mobility, their typical roles are:

Air Taxi

Many eVTOL’s concept are for Air Taxi application. For instance, Pipistrel, an Uber Elevate, partner, is working on the Pipistrel 801, a 5 seats air taxi. Another example is Volocopter, which proposed its air taxi service called VoloCity, based on the Volocopter 2X.

Delivery

The Google-owned company Alphabet has been offering an eVTOL UAV delivery service since 2020. Their drones are able to fly up to 100 km and carry up to 1.5 kg. Amazon Air and UPS are two others companies using drone delivery. A German aerospace company called Wingcopter in collaboration with UNICEF has also delivered vaccines in Vanuatu in 2018. In 2020 wingcopter eVTOL drone was used to deliver COVID-19 test kits to Isle of Mull.

Heavy-lift unmanned air vehicles included companies such as Sabrewing Aircraft Company Sabrewing Rhaegal, Elroy Air Chaparral, and Pipistrel have unveiled heavy-lift cargo drones, with the Sabrewing aircraft having a capacity to carry a payload of up to 5,400 pounds in a vertical take off scenario.

Medical assistance (EMS)

In 2020, JumpAero announced it was working on a small, one-seater eVTOL aircraft to allow the rapid deployment of emergency services. This type of vehicle is not a replacement for land vehicles or helicopters, but a new tool that, thanks to the electric motor, is faster than the others.

In 2020, the Canadian Air Mobility consortium studied the benefits of eVTOL for direct hospital-to-hospital transportation of patients, organs and drugs.

Recreation

eVTOL aircraft have been created to introduce electric flight into recreational or sporting aviation, such as racing series Airspeeder.

Military

In April 2020, the USAF announced $25 million-worth funding of eVTOL projects for development in 2021. On August 20, 2020, United States Air Force (USAF) held a demonstration flight of an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. It was the first time that a manned eVTOL aircraft took flight under USAF Agility Prime program.

On 12 December 2021, Embraer and BAE Systems announced plans to embark on a joint study to explore the development of Eve’s vehicle for the defense and security market.

Certification

Europe

Since 2018, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been working on the certification of such aircraft. In July 2019, they published the SC-VTOL 01: Special Condition for VTOL aircraft. This document established the safety and design objectives for VTOL aircraft. It includes a special section for eVTOL.

United States

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a study in 2009 on general aviation recommendations for the next 20 years. In particular Part 23-Amendment 64 includes eVTOL.