Taking off from everywhere, landing everywhere: what will be the transport of the near future

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Taking off from everywhere, landing everywhere: what will be the transport of the near future
Taking off from everywhere, landing everywhere: what will be the transport of the near future
1 March, 16:59TechnologyPhoto: Соцсети
One of the fastest growing markets in the world will soon be electric VTOL vehicles.

Alexander Sychev

Rolls-Royce and European consultant Roland Berger have published a study of the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft market in the Asia-Pacific region. The report was prepared for the 8th International Exhibition of the Aerospace Industry Singapore Airshow 2022.

Taxi and ambulance

The authors of the report assessed the development of the markets for urban and regional air transportation, including urban and fixed-route taxis, intercity ground flights up to 250 kilometers long, where these aircraft may be most in demand.

The fact that the study is dedicated specifically to the Asia-Pacific region is due not only to the holding of one of the largest exhibitions here, but also to the fact that today more than half of all eVTOLs operated in the world fly in this region. By 2030, a thousand of these aircraft will appear here, and by 2050, the growing traffic congestion of megacities will lead to an increase in the fleet to almost 83 thousand. They will bring transport companies about $ 37 billion or more than 40% of the global income expected in this sector.

Japan will be the regional growth leader with a potential fleet of more than 16,000 eVTOL passenger aircraft. By 2050, these aircraft will bring Japanese transport companies about $14 billion. By the same time, South Korea is expected to generate $3.8 billion in revenue and Singapore $350 million.

The authors of the report did not consider the cargo transportation market, which electric aircraft companies are also targeting and have already developed and even built the first cargo eVTOLs. Last year, the American company Beta Technologies reached an agreement in principle with several customers who are ready to purchase the Alia 250c as soon as the FAA issues an airworthiness certificate. Among them is United Therapeutics, which would like to have these aircraft as "ambulances", UPS - for the delivery of goods, Blade - for urban transportation.

The military is also interested

The researchers also did not touch the defense sector, which, by the way, has already spotted eVTOL and started testing them. The military was attracted by the ability of eVTOL to take off and land vertically on almost any site, their operational cheapness - flying on eVTOL costs the same as moving by car; virtually silent flight and stability in the air.

The American company Beta Technologies was the first to whose Alia-250c product drew the attention of the military. But she, by the way, made some efforts, trying to catch the eye of the military. Management made a hefty payroll outlay, and probably more, by bringing in Will Roper, the former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to the board of directors. He has already worked off part of his salary by persuading his acquaintances in the US Army to test the Alia.

Army engineers will be mercilessly chasing Alia for some time, testing range and altitude in various weather conditions, endurance and payload limits. So far, the American infantry is eyeing this hybrid as a means of delivering goods, but does not exclude the possibility of attaching it to combat missions.

Initially, Alia-250c was created for civilian purposes, in which the device proved to be very worthy. The four propellers at the ends of the wings provide lift, while the tail propeller pushes forward. The wings of the Alia-250c reach a span of 15 meters. It can move six passengers over a distance of approximately 460 kilometers. The company's testers lifted Alia to a height of almost 2.5 kilometers. The device was so stable that last year the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed the stability of the aircraft and allowed the company to make several test flights around the country.

The shape of the Alia electric hybrid was borrowed from the arctic tern by its designers. In this bird, they were struck by the perfection of the lines, but most importantly, the ability to make the longest migratory flights in comparison with other representatives of the feathered world. The length of its routes reaches 90 thousand kilometers.

The prospects of the market, due to the growing transport problems of the world's largest cities, as well as the emergence of new types of batteries, have spurred the growth of the number of venture capital companies engaged in the creation of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. According to the latest ratings, about 250 companies are currently involved in the creation of eVTOL. Aircraft are designed both for individual use for one person and for seven passengers.

According to SMG analysts, the most successful today are ten that have achieved the greatest success and received more than $6 billion in third-party funding. By comparison, the next 100 or so startups have combined funding of only a few hundred million.

Some of the top ten, such as Wisk, Kittyhawk and Joby, already operate a small fleet, while others have only developed concepts so far. But everything goes to the fact that in the near future hundreds of eVTOLs will literally swarm in the sky of big cities, carry passengers, including on intercity routes, and also deliver goods to stores. This will also be facilitated by a simple, relatively cheap and quite accessible infrastructure for organizing a new transport system. It will release the overloaded transport arteries, bringing the citizens into the third dimension.

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