How the UAM Working Group Aims to Help Advance Composite Manufacturing Tech Aerospace grade composites have long been regarded as the golden standard for quality and durability. How can single batch production ramp to support the demands of a new industry? Composite manufacturing is common place among aerospace, automotive racing, and other high performance transportation modes – but it’s not...
How the UAM Working Group Aims to Help Advance Composite Manufacturing Tech
Aerospace grade composites have long been regarded as the golden standard for quality and durability. How can single batch production ramp to support the demands of a new industry?
Composite manufacturing is common place among aerospace, automotive racing, and other high performance transportation modes – but it’s not currently staged to support the growing demands of transformative modes of transportation that will require assembly-line scale mass produced material to bolster production levels to 100’s and 1,000’s of units per month from less than 10.
The American Composites Manufacturers Association, in partnership with aerial mobility startup Happy Take Off, are focusing directly on enabling the business relationships that will facilitate creative solutions to this problem. In partnership with over 20 companies from the aerospace and automotive manufacturing industries, ACMA and HTO hosted an Urban Air Mobility Meeting on September 25th in Anaheim, CA to form the UAM Working Group and kickoff discussions on advanced manufacturing processes for aerospace and automotive grade materials, composite material sciences developments, and how technology, aerospace, and automotive companies alike can leverage one another’s strengths to create solutions to the challenges of mass produced composites faster than any one company may be able to.
The partnerships aren’t without risk – it’ll be a challenging decision for some companies to offer up their IP in hopes of a greater return through collaboration. However, the UAM Working Group aims to facilitate those discussions at a high level, and then allow members of the group to talk specifics amongst themselves. Founder of Happy Take Off, Danielle McLean describes the aim of the group: “Our aim is to facilitate the high level, initial connection between players in the aerospace and automotive composites industries, and then allow them to dive further into the details of those partnerships privately.” ACMA’s Vice President of Composites Market Development, Dan Coughlin added that the working group is also encouraging the development of P3’s (public private partnerships) with Federal agencies including the Department of Defense, NASA and Department of Energy toward the betterment of composites manufacturing.
“Through our outreach, market development, and advocacy capabilities, ACMA connects industry with Federal agencies and policy makers in Washington, DC. The manufacturing needs of the UAM industry are challenging. ACMA will provide essential support for the UAM industry’s ambitious growth plans through our partnership, advocacy, and networking opportunities.
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Institute is also involved – Parimal Kopardekar (PK), Ph.D., and director of NARI plans to serve as a charter member of the UAM Working Group. In total, the UAM Working Group has combined players from UAM, tech, aerospace, automotive, governmental policy, private policy, and trade organizations in very short order, and is poised well to make an impact on the future of composites manufacturing for the aerial mobility industry.
About Happy Take Off and ACMA
Happy Take Off is focused on creation of modular vertiports than can be used on most existing buildings. HTO’s goal is to grow the number of applicable landing sites for UAM operations while minimizing the infrastructure and financial barriers to entry for vertiports. These modular vertiports will be completely self-contained, include live weather data for better route planning, and allow developers who aren’t as familiar with the industry to gain exposure and demo being a part of commercial UAM operations much easier than before.
The American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) the world’s largest composites industry trade group. By delivering invaluable education and events, access to market intelligence, and by working with regulators and legislators, ACMA serves as the center of expertise and competence and an essential driver of industry growth and prosperity. ACMA represents small and large companies—manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, and affiliates—from every market segment in all 50 states as well as international members.
Why it’s important: Companies like Icon Aircraft have been wildly popular for creating easy to fly, clean sheet general aviation aircraft that generate marketing buzz commensurate of a newly released supercar – but the technologies to enable mass production of the same or similar materials that are already in use for general aviation aerospace applications are years away from reality. The partnership between ACMA and Happy Take Off, in addition to the 50+ companies participating in the Urban Air Mobility meeting in Anaheim, CA, suggests that these discussions are already advancing progress less than a month after the formal program was announced.
Below is a full list of companies currently committed to the UAM Working Group:
Airspace Experience Technologies
Boat Works of South Windsor, Inc.
Diab Americas LP
NEXA Capital Partners, LLC
Oak Ridge National Lab
Superior Huntingdon Composites, LLC
TxV Aero Composites
BLADE Urban Air Mobility has expanded its offerings on the West Coast, now availing customers with direct, on demand flights connecting LAX, DTLA, Burbank, the Westside, Orange County, and more in Southern California. Months after the UAM provider brought their San Francisco Bay services into the public realm, they’ve continued to expand their West Coast market to include Southern California....
BLADE Urban Air Mobility has expanded its offerings on the West Coast, now availing customers with direct, on demand flights connecting LAX, DTLA, Burbank, the Westside, Orange County, and more in Southern California.
Months after the UAM provider brought their San Francisco Bay services into the public realm, they’ve continued to expand their West Coast market to include Southern California.
In an interview with BLADE’s General Manager of West Coast Operations, Shivani Parikh, and BLADE UAM Founder and CEO, Rob Wiesenthal, the new operations were described as an exciting new market for on-demand aerial mobility for the West Coast.
“Since expanding our continuous flight service in Manhattan and San Francisco, we are seeing faster-than-expected adoption by people choosing to fly rather than drive” Parikh stated. “Additionally, Los Angeles is on the forefront of embracing multi-modality transportation options such as auto, bike, and scooter shares as new ways of saving time. BLADE is now enabling another mobility option – the ability to fly short distances bypassing ground traffic on the way to work, home, the airport or to key leisure destinations. Los Angeles’ great weather contributes to an endless flying season for customers to take advantage of beating traffic in one of the most congested cities in the United States.
TransportUP’s Editor, Naish Gaubatz, went for a ride with the BLADE team in Los Angeles to demo the expansion of BLADE’s UAM offerings. The short helicopter ride highlighted the benefits of a dedicated urban air mobility operation in a congested city like Los Angeles – not only were the direct to heliport services at LAX a means to save time, the flight to the West Side showcased the ease of travelling along a route that would normally take almost an hour when the Northbound 405 Freeway is gridlocked (while the flight took less than 10 minutes and included spectacular views to boot).
Additionally, BLADE’s new expansion of services in Southern California play well with the culture of entertainment and luxury excursion that is signature of Los Angeles – and which many travel far to experience. In partnership with a variety of music, cultural, sporting, and large event programmers, BLADE has been able to capture a large amount of on-demand aerial mobility customers who are seeking better and faster ways to reach these marquis events. Not to mention, many of these experiences are accompanied with time at one of BLADE’s signature customer experience facets – the BLADE Lounge. Currently stationed in DTLA, the BLADE Lounge offers customers the chance to unwind with a drink before their flight, or complete some last minute work items. BLADE has stated that prices of flights between LAX, DTLA, the West Side, and Burbank will start at $195.
Many argue that BLADE is piloting UAM operations of tomorrow with a platform that’s functional today by utilizing the most technologically advanced, safest certified rotorcraft on the market. When asked about the transition between helicopters and eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft) as the main aircraft that serve currently heli-dominated routes, CEO Rob Wiesenthal stated “We don’t see the transition as a step function change; there will be opportunities for customers on a limited basis to try eVTOL aircraft when they’re available, certified, and have a track record of performance – but even then the integration into BLADE’s accessible fleet will be measured”
Shivani Parikh also commented on potential future expansion plans for BLADE in SoCal to include Santa Barbara, San Diego, and desert cities on an “as demanded basis”. The general approach, commented Parikh, was utilize early adopting customer feedback campaigns that help to identify the areas for the largest benefit and refinement of BLADE’s current offerings.
Why it’s important: BLADE UAM has few competitors in Southern California – in fact, the closest entity to a competitor currently are helicopter charter services that require booking and coordination days, if not weeks in advance. With BLADE’s UAM platform, customers can book and be airborne in minutes, directly on the way to their destination. In cities like New York and Los Angeles alike, the last few miles of the journey can make all the difference in time savings, and BLADE’s expansion in SoCal could likely be the beginning of many more commercial UAM operations in Los Angeles.
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market? This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet...
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market?
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission.
Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet buyers, some have speculated this partnership will produce a “flying sports car.”
So are Porsche and Boeing going to build personal vehicles for the high net worth crowd? Porsche might have an interest in building such a car to promote their brand. It could look like targeting a segment of the supercar market without the potential for cannibalizing existing sales. However, if the alliance follows the economic interests of both parties, this alliance will focus on creating fleet aircraft with a healthy dose of performance and luxury cues for the wealthy.
There will be a flying sports car market for individuals who wish to fly (and drive) the vehicle themselves. Terrafugia, AeroMobil, and PAL-V have vehicles in process targeting this market. These flying cars have list prices starting at $200,000 and can cost more than $1,200,000. Flying sports cars could change travel patterns to vacation homes or eventually even work in certain circumstances. They will probably represent an offshoot of the supercar market or the very top end of the car market.
I can’t wait to fly one, but the market in units will be relatively small for affordability reasons. Think thousands of units per year. The entire luxury car market in the U.S. will be about $10 billion in 2019, but nearly all of that market is for cars below $150,000. Jonathan Carrier, Vice President of Corporate Development for AeroMobil validates this point, “The total addressable market for flying cars above $500,000 is perhaps 10,000 units by 2030, but realistically the privately-owned market will total 1000 units per year. Supercar market dynamics will be key: exclusivity, performance and customer experience.”
Fleet models can drive the cost to enter the UAM market much lower than the alternatives and thereby stimulate the market. Instead of paying $200,000 plus upfront for a personal air vehicle, even if it isn’t a flying sports car, wealthy individuals could pay a reasonable cost per trip. Not surprisingly, Porsche Consulting suggests the overall eVtol market will total $32B market, by 2035.
However, even a fleet UAM model with high levels of utilization and seat occupancy won’t immediately support massive substitution for auto traffic. Today, driving a large sedan, the type of vehicle that a black car service might use, costs around about $0.72 per vehicle mile. At an average occupancy of 1.67 people (not including the driver), the cost per seat mile falls to $0.43/seat mile. (Of course, for a black car service the cost would be much higher to pay for the driver.) At Elevate this year, Uber predicted that at inception UAM cost per seat mile will exceed $5.70 per seat mile. At scale Uber projects a cost of $1.86 per seat mile for a UAM with all four seats occupied. These estimates assume the UAM programs hit their targets and don’t take into account that the same technical innovations that make the decline in seat miles costs for UAM possible will also drive down the cost per seat mile of automobiles.
The superior operating economics for fleets, the high purchase costs for personal UAM vehicles and the time and effort required to get a pilot’s license will ensure that UAM manufacturers sell many fleet vehicles for every personal vehicle they sell. As a result, fleet vehicles should become the priority in Boeing’s and Porsche’s joint capital investment plans.
Market Sizing and Who Will Fly in UAM Vehicles
The fleet market for UAM vehicles will grow off the base of UAM applications that helicopters fill today and then into the black car market. After years of dormancy, the commuter helicopter business has started to grow with Voom creating a moderate success in Sao Paolo and Mexico City and Blade building a nice business in New York. Uber recently joined the fray by starting services in New York and has announced service in the Bay Area. Helicopters currently cost around $1,200 per flight hour to operate, or between $9-10 per seat mile for a six-passenger aircraft. That is 70-80% more than Uber’s projections for its initial UAM service for a four-passenger aircraft (depending on whether you measure by cost per flight hour or cost per seat mile basis). Cutting that much cost could cause these markets to grow by three times or more. Most of these customers will come from more expensive car services. Uber Black, for example, typically costs over three times UberX and as UAM costs fall some black car customers will naturally choose to step up.
People often use helicopter services even though it costs more and doesn’t always save time. Recently, The Drive echoed the classic New York Times taxi helicopter race article from the 1970s using Uber’s new helicopter service to go to JFK. Their case study showed that public transport took less time than Uber’s service while acknowledging times might vary depending on the complexity of multi-model connections. In the Bloomberg version, the rider in the helicopter spent $364 for two people and took 43 minutes to arrive despite the eight-minute flight time. In the end, the attractiveness of the service from a functional standpoint will probably depend on the time of day, which drives traffic congestion, and the proximity of the origin or destination to the helipad. However, in addition to these specific time and geographic advantages, helicopter services have also grown because they are a premium product.
The Role of Performance Cues and Customer Experience
Today, helicopter service is a product for those with very high budgets. In the future, however, the people who will use these services might look a lot like people who buy one of Porsche’s more affordable sports cars. Wealthier individuals who value their time and businesspeople in a rush value premium experiences and status. Less hassle, lounges, and priority boarding remain valuable in commercial aviation even in the era of low-cost airlines, and these needs are often reflected in customer experience design for services like Blade. Not surprisingly, Porsche has worked with Delta Private Jets on the ground leg of private jet trips to create seamless, premium experiences.
Unlike the commercial aviation market where airlines (for example Eos and Max Jet) were not able to successfully customize entire aircraft to premium segments, vehicle design will likely play an important role for fleet UAM models. On the one hand, wealthy clients will continue to find exclusivity, performance cues, and luxury design attractive just as they do in the luxury car market. Exclusivity will be far more important in the UAM market than in the commercial aviation markets due to the small size of the aircraft and the more intimate nature of the experience. The risk associated with some of the well-publicized ride-sharing challenges JetSmarter faced in the private jet market, always an aspirational area for the well-to-do, will only intensify these concerns.
Similarly, while the well-off UAM customer might not have the money for a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a flying sports car and they may not personally fly their UAM vehicle, they will not want to fly in the UAM equivalent of a Yugo. For proof points beyond cars, competition in the private jet market is again instructive. One could argue that flight speed makes little practical difference for most private flights (except perhaps by increasing fuel bills), but nonetheless, it remains an important differentiating feature for private jets. Interiors also play a key role in differentiating for private aviation and Porsche Design Studio has worked in this area previously to leverage its expertise from autos. On the other hand, fleet operators also care deeply about the cost of operation, so fleet UAM will use these cues while controlling operating costs.
Only Porsche has strong economic motives to pursue the personal market. Small market sizes shouldn’t create an impediment for them. It is a complement to what they already have and they have effectively pursued analogous strategies in the auto market. Boeing has less at stake in terms of brand connection to a high-end flying sports car and its BBJ business is of less relative importance financially. In the BBJ business, for example, the interior design is done by third parties like GDC Technics.
Both parties do have a significant interest in the fleet market. UAM will probably start from a base where it serves a relatively small core market of wealthy individuals and business people that prefer UAM service to expensive car transport options. That will represent a new, attractive market for both Porsche and Boeing. While initial market sizing estimates for UAM might seem aggressive without lower costs, over time the market will grow. Whoever wins the initial premium market will have a great market position in an attractive segment and a strong, aspirational brand it can take to the mass market. Porsche represents a great starting point either as an ingredient brand to the long-term UAM brand or as a UAM brand on its own. As noted above, the vehicle will need a luxury, performance-oriented design to go with the premium services. Porsche is the perfect partner to help Boeing get there on both of these dimensions and Boeing can provide the expertise to make it fly.
Hyundai Motor Group announced Monday that is has appointed Dr. Jaiwon Shin as Executive Vice President if its newly established Urban Air Mobility Division. Hyundai stated in a press release that Dr. Shin, an internationally renowned aeronautics engineer, will lead the company into a new era of developing smart mobility products within the aviation industry. “Having worked on cutting-edge aviation...
Hyundai Motor Group announced Monday that is has appointed Dr. Jaiwon Shin as Executive Vice President if its newly established Urban Air Mobility Division. Hyundai stated in a press release that Dr. Shin, an internationally renowned aeronautics engineer, will lead the company into a new era of developing smart mobility products within the aviation industry.
“Having worked on cutting-edge aviation research and development at NASA for 30 years, I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to now shape urban air mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor Group. The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth USD 1.5 trillion within the next 20 years.” Dr. Shin stated of his new role
Hyundai Motor Group also characterized the importance of aerial mobility: “Urban Air Mobility is expected to become a critically important part of the integrated mobility solution for ever-increasing traffic problems in mega cities around the world. Through the Urban Air Mobility Division, Hyundai Motor Group aims to provide innovate and smart mobility solutions never seen or thought of before.”
Dr. Shin is a well-deserved appointee for this new role, and has held various positions within aerospace technology companies over his career. Most recently, he led the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, where he shaped the agency’s aeronautics research and development strategy for over 11 years.During his time at NASA, Dr. Shin was head of a USD 725 million program to lead many new aeronautics research initiatives, such as supersonic X-plane, aircraft electrification, UAS traffic management, and recently, urban air mobility.
Dr. Shin has also been involved from the political front of advancing aerospace and disruptive transportation technology, as he co-chaired the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science and Technology Subcommittee, which wrote the United States’ first presidential policy for aeronautics research and development. He was also co-chair of the USAF / NASA Executive Research Committee, which facilitated the highest level of coordination of common research needs between United States Air Force and NASA Aeronautics. He is internationally recognized as a leader in the aviation research community and was elected to the Chair of the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) for a two-year term in 2014. Dr. Shin has also been awarded the Presidential Rank Award twice (in 2008 and 2016), the highest accolade presented to public officials in the US federal government.
Dr. Shin received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia. His bachelor’s degree is in mechanical engineering from Yonsei University in Korea, and his master’s degree is in mechanical engineering from the California State University, Long Beach.
A graduate of the Senior Executive Fellowship Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Dr. Shin has authored and co-authored more than 20 technical and journal papers. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of the United Kingdom.
Why it’s important: Hyundai’s appointment of Dr. Shin is a continuation of increasing involvement from large automotive firms in the aerial mobility industry, and is a signal of what’s to come for Hyundai’s transportation developments in the future. A new UAM division will undoubtedly garner additional competition and energy within the aerial mobility industry as Hyundai continues to make a name for themselves as much more than a land-based automotive and transportation technology OEM.
German Urban Air Mobility Company Volocopter raises new capital Volocopter announced Sunday that they’ve completed a EUR 50 Million first closing of their Series C finding round. Series C was led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd, followed by new and existing investors from Europe, America, and Asia. Geely Holding and Volocopter also announced that they’ll enter a joint...
German Urban Air Mobility Company Volocopter raises new capital
Volocopter announced Sunday that they’ve completed a EUR 50 Million first closing of their Series C finding round. Series C was led by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd, followed by new and existing investors from Europe, America, and Asia. Geely Holding and Volocopter also announced that they’ll enter a joint venture to bring Urban Air Mobility to China. Geely holdings is no stranger to backing UAM initiatives – they acquired a large portion of Mass. based flying car manufacturer Terrafugia in November of 2017.
Founders jointly remain largest shareholder
Funds acquired in this round of funding will be used towards bringing the VoloCity aircraft to commercial launch within the next three years, an air taxi concept that was unveiled just weeks ago. Volocopter stated that they will remain in discussions with additional investors for a second closing around year-end. The first closing has increased Volocopter’s total fundraising to EUR 85 million.
Since its foundation in 2011, Volocopter has built three generations of Volocopter aircraft, two of which received licenses for manned and unmanned flight with a total funding of EUR 35 million. The company has performed numerous public demonstrations of the viability of electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), most recently it successfully completed a flight at Helsinki International Airport. This flight featured the company’s current demonstrator, the Volocopter V200X, and helped to support the compatibility of air taxis with existing air traffic management solutions while paving the way for airspace integrated flights of aircraft like VoloCity in the future.
“Urban mobility needs to evolve in the next few years to meet rising demand. With our Volocopter air taxis, we are adding a whole new level of mobility in the skies” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter.
Geely Holding becomes a minority investor in Volocopter, next to existing strategic investors like Daimler. The founders, Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel both individual shareholders, jointly remain the company’s largest shareholder.
Geely Holding highlights the strategic cooperation potential with Volocopter. The companies have agreed to enter into a joint venture to bring Urban Air Mobility to the significant Chinese market. Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman, said:
“Geely is transitioning from being an automotive manufacturer to a mobility technology group, investing in and developing a wide range of next-generation technologies. Our latest cooperation with Daimler, building on our partnership in smart and premium ride-hailing services, as well as our joint venture with Volocopter underlines our confidence in Volocopter air taxis as the next ambitious step in our wider expansion in both electrification and new mobility services.”
Volocopter stated that they anticipate another funding round to close by end of 2019, and plans on earmarking those funds toward European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) commercial certification of the VoloCity air taxi. Volocopter is opening this fundraising round to both existing and new investors and equity groups.
Volocopter also announced that later this year they’ll present the VoloPort air taxi landing infrastructure at the 26th Annual Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Singapore, held 22 – 25 October 2019.
Why it’s important: This additional capital injection for Volocopter will support further certification efforts for the company later this year and continuing into 2020, and reaffirms Geely Holding’s involvement in the UAM industry, as well as supports Geely’s transition from an automotive holdings group to a mobility enabler. The trend of automotive groups becoming increasingly involved in the UAM industry is not unique – although a number of these companies are deliberately keeping quiet. Volocopter’s 2023 entry into service (EIS) timeline for certification and initial commercial implementation of the VoloCity Air Taxi concept aligns with Uber Elevate’s initiatives and schedule for air taxi commercialization.
Source // Volocopter
Derrick Xiong, co-founder and CMO of EHang shares his vision on the future of eVTOL and UAM. TransportUP: Where does your passion for aerospace and aviation come from and why are you particularly interested in eVTOL? Derrick Xiong: EHang was founded back in 2014 by myself and the other founder, Huazhi Hu. I had a passion to pursue a career...
Derrick Xiong, co-founder and CMO of EHang shares his vision on the future of eVTOL and UAM.
TransportUP: Where does your passion for aerospace and aviation come from and why are you particularly interested in eVTOL?
Derrick Xiong: EHang was founded back in 2014 by myself and the other founder, Huazhi Hu. I had a passion to pursue a career as an entrepreneur while Mr. Hu had the aviation dream as a helicopter pilot. I think the reason we wanted to start at EHang was because we’ve seen a lot of crashes every year from all kinds of traditional aircraft, especially helicopters. Actually, two mentors of Mr. Hu mentors died in accidents in 2010 and 2012.
How do you vision urban air mobility and eVTOL disrupting the global aviation paradigm in the next 10 years?
I think in the next ten years, a lot is going to happen. For example, we just announced this news that we are working with the Guangzhou municipal government to promote urban air mobility. We’re also working with the Civil Aviaton Authority in China to meet their airworthiness standards. I think we’re going to see a lot of positive changes. I see urban air mobility and eVTOL adding an additional layer to traditional current air transportation. You know, I’m seeing all these changes and there’s definitely going to be a commercialization of urban air mobility and more people who will be able to benefit from the progress and development of the industry.
How long do you believe it will be before UAM is commercialized to the general public?
When we announced the news with the Guangzhou government, we’re not looking at the next 5 to 10 years, but the near future. So I can’t give a timeline per se or guarantee that it is going to happen this year, but it’s not far away.
Who is your ideal customer? Is EHang marketing its products towards private customers or towards air taxi services or both?
As a company, we are open to either, but also want to establish meaningful business partnerships. As of recent, we have done demo flight in Vienna, Amsterdam, Doha, and Dubai. In doing this, we want to position ourselves as a global company and work with local partners to get approvals from federal regulators. So I think we will need individual partners and business partners alike to be successful.
There are many different new entrants to the eVTOL and urban air mobility markets how do you plan to remain ahead of that competition in such a fragmented industry?
First of all, I see the competition as a good thing because if you think back to 2016 when we first launched the EHang 184, you didn’t see many companies doing this. There was nobody talking about urban air mobility. Everyone’s participation in eVTOL will help to make the industry grow, which is very exciting.
I’ll say from what I’ve seen of public sources, we seem to be making the most progress towards flight demos and flights with passengers. We’ve carried hundreds of passengers and that has helped to build confidence in the technology of our products. Between that, the relationship with the Guangzhou government, and other developments, I think we will keep going and continue to make our own contributions to the industry.
What are some of the challenges to your continued growth and the overall adoption of UAM and how are you working to get ahead of some of those complexities?
We’re getting to a point now where the aircraft are becoming very safe and reliable. At EHang, we’d like to do better seeking out new partners and opportunities to showcase our technology and demo sites. I think the social acceptance of the general public will be one of the biggest challenges before the mass usage of these vehicles. But in terms of the safety and technology of our vehicles, we’re very comfortable in light of the number of successful tests we’ve had.
My last question for you on that note, if I’m a member of the general public, why should I particularly be interested in UAM?
I think eVTOL is a fundamental need no matter where you live. If you live in big cities, traffic can make it take much longer to get from Point A to Point B. This is something the general public needs to keep their eye on, it’s going to change the way we commute. I think people might have questions about the safety or regulation of these vehicles, but the need for eVTOL is enormous for everyone.
Uber welcomes eVTOL aircraft developers to partner in its Uber Air ride-share air-taxi service. The company has already selected six partners, but at this week’s Global Urban Air Summit (GUAS) at Farnborough International, Uber said more could be added. According to Uber’s Advanced Technology Research Center Director, François Sillion, “we don’t think any one company will win and there could...
Uber welcomes eVTOL aircraft developers to partner in its Uber Air ride-share air-taxi service.
The company has already selected six partners, but at this week’s Global Urban Air Summit (GUAS) at Farnborough International, Uber said more could be added. According to Uber’s Advanced Technology Research Center Director, François Sillion, “we don’t think any one company will win and there could be more than one aircraft on our platform.” The companies that currently have working partnerships with Uber include Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell, EmbraerX, Karem Aircraft, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, and Jaunt Air Mobility, and they all have a shared goal – to develop a feasibly integrable aircraft for Uber’s air taxi service, predicted to launch in 2023. According to a press release from Aviation International News, another U.S. based eVTOL manufacturer plans to sign an agreement with Uber, thereby expanding the list of partners.
In addition to the previously announced launch cities, Sillion explained that Uber is actively planning to launch services in U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Dallas, and New York. Dallas may be a frontrunner due to city council members recently approving an economic incentive package which includes $746,000 from a tax abatement over a five year period and up to $8.6M in economic grants. Though, “this won’t be mass transportation, but it won’t just be for the rich either,” Sillion explained at the Global Urban Air Summit. “There will be thousands of flights carrying around 10,000 people each day in the urban areas we will serve.”
In discussion with city governments, Uber is also developing networks of “Skylines” to help determine which route is optimum at any given time for a specific flight, based on factors such as air traffic density, terrain and “community acceptance” issues, such as noise. This new technology will be integrated with the company’s future “SkyPorts” which are not just landing pads for eVTOLs, but are designed to enable seamless transportation in major cities. As such, each SkyPort is connected with public transit, has parking and charging for Uber Jump bikes & scooters, and has areas for easily connecting with Uber cars (one day to be autonomous).
Why it’s important: The Global Urban Air Summit provided a stage for Uber and over 100 other eVTOL industry players to create and unveil new partnerships over the two-day conference from September 3rd-4th. The technological and logistical progress Uber continues to make in the development of its air-taxi service is demonstrative of overall UAM industry success as it increases total market share by adding partners.
Sources // Uber; Aviation International News
UAM faces regulatory and customer perception problems. FARNBOROUGH, England — Drones are here and flying cars are moving from sci-fi to reality — now regulators and potential customers are scrambling to catch up. Aerospace giants like Airbus and Boeing, tech companies like Uber and even McDonald’s are betting big on drone deliveries and air taxis. They promise to shorten delivery...
UAM faces regulatory and customer perception problems.
FARNBOROUGH, England — Drones are here and flying cars are moving from sci-fi to reality — now regulators and potential customers are scrambling to catch up.
Aerospace giants like Airbus and Boeing, tech companies like Uber and even McDonald’s are betting big on drone deliveries and air taxis. They promise to shorten delivery times, ease congestion and decarbonize transport. But that technological vision is running into two problems — public skepticism and a missing regulatory framework.
“Lots of people come and say they want to launch in central London, that’s great but planning issues, privacy, power and public acceptance are more intensely felt there,” Tim Johnson, policy director at the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, said at the Global Urban Air Summit at Farnborough on Tuesday.
The challenge is that the nascent technologies span the range from what exists now — drones, for example — to those that are still on drawing boards, like various versions of flying cars. Regulators have to work out rules on everything from what is covered — the EU had a big debate on how heavy a drone has to be before tougher rules apply — to how such decisions affect shared airspace, noise levels, pollution and safety.
While Brussels is trying to establish EU-wide rules, national regulators are also drawing up regulations, and often choosing divergent approaches.
“If we think if we go in anything less than incremental steps, then we’re probably mistaken” — Jon Round, Civil Aviation Authority official
“Picking our markets have been almost exclusively driven by politics, not economics,” said Duncan Walker, co-founder and managing director of Skyports, a company that builds platforms and buildings from which aircraft can take off and land.
He said that working with regulators “frankly, is a mess.”
Walker’s words were echoed by other industry officials at the conference. Asked if U.K. authorities have implemented steps to allow the integration of unmanned aircraft into airspace, Harini Kulatunga, head of solutions for unmanned aerial systems at Airbus, said: “I don’t believe so.”
The speed of technological change throws up another issue for regulators.
An image of the new Amazon delivery drone is displayed during the Amazon Re:MARS conference in Las Vegas on June 5, 2019 | Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
“It’s equally as bad to get ahead of the industry as it is to get behind them,” said Jay Merckle, executive director of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, citing the risk that legislating too early means doing guesswork on which way the industry will go, and often getting it wrong.
Jon Round, head of airspace, air traffic management and aerodromes at the Civil Aviation Authority, asked for patience. “If we think if we go in anything less than incremental steps, then we’re probably mistaken.”
Getting technology and regulations aligned leaves another hurdle — persuading people that these services are needed.
Convincing them to agree to more noisy objects flying above their heads is a challenge. People “don’t want noise above them unless they’re the ones going on holiday in a plane or there’s a drone delivery that’s for them,” said Round. “The noise is enormous as an issue.”
High cost also makes it difficult for companies to make the argument that ordinary people will benefit. Current helicopter services in São Paulo, Mexico City and New York — running as pilot projects for Airbus and Uber — only cater to affluent customers.
Industry emphasized the need to outline the potential value of urban air mobility — moving organs and blood across a city rather than pizza, for example.
“The real challenge of making this successful is that people don’t feel it’s only for a select few,” said James Cranswick, director of aviation at Deloitte, the consultancy.
It’s all still pretty niche.
Companies argue that urban air mobility is a possible solution to congestion, but Uber, which is also investing in air transport, said it does not envision “mass transport,” and predicts eventually moving around 10,000 people in a city per day — a far cry from the 3.5 million who use London’s public transport system every day.
Industry emphasized the need to outline the potential value of urban air mobility — moving organs and blood across a city rather than pizza, for example. The biggest challenge is “social,” said Mildred Troegeler, the director of global airspace integration at Boeing NeXt, the company’s division that deals with urban air transport. “We need to show the actual value of the operations.”
This article originally appeared on Politico.eu. Used with permission from Saim Saeed.
The 2-seat XP2 eVTOL has entered the manufacturing phase NeoXcraft, the eVTOL aircraft designed and developed by UK-Vehicle Redesign, has entered the manufacturing phase with a target first flight date in 2020. Vehicle Redesign in based in Derby, UK and is building multiple proof of concept aircraft (half and quarter scale models) to validate the expected performance of the company’s...
The 2-seat XP2 eVTOL has entered the manufacturing phase
NeoXcraft, the eVTOL aircraft designed and developed by UK-Vehicle Redesign, has entered the manufacturing phase with a target first flight date in 2020. Vehicle Redesign in based in Derby, UK and is building multiple proof of concept aircraft (half and quarter scale models) to validate the expected performance of the company’s designs.
At Farnborough’s Global Urban Air Summit on September 4th, Michael Smith (co-Founder of Vehicle Redesign) spoke to the companies progress and identified an entry to service date sometime within the next three years, potentially as early as 2022. Vehicle Redesign focused on utilizing advanced materials (graphene carbon fiber according to Smith) that, when combined with eight 30kW electric drive brushless motors (EDBM’s) provides for ample power to carry the aircraft over a suitable distance.
According to Vehicle Redesign, the vehicle is expected to fly for 50 minutes at a top speed of 135knots, equating to a range of 125nm accounting for reserves. Vehicle Redesign has obtained funding from a German family and a Japanese consortium, along with a £500,000 investment from private investors, will be seeking Series B funding sometime in 2020, and has provisionally listed its air taxi for $2.4 million USD. A ballistic recovery parachute system, similar to BRS Aerospace’s designs, will most likely be employed on the aircraft to enhance safety.
Initially, the XP2 would be used for VVIP transport operations in select global locales, and could possibly expand beyond just VVIP transport operations to larger scale commercial implementation depending on the progress of development and the realization of the market.
XP2’s development in the European market will be an exciting progress map to follow, as EASA’s special conditions for certification of eVTOL aircraft will guide certification differently than the process that many North American startups and large OEM’s will adhere to on their respective paths to entry into service.
Why it’s important: Manufacturing of the XP2 marks an important milestone for Vehicle Redesign, as the company continue to solidify their positioning within the UAM industry as a serious contender with a substantial amount of interest from private clients. However, XP2’s current marketing brand is targeted largely towards VVIP customers, and less toward general commercial operations, which is a deviation from many other companies developing eVTOL aircraft that may prove to be substantial value added for Vehicle Redesign.
Source // FlightGlobal
The Global Urban Air Summit hosted aerial mobility technologies, partnerships, and debates. Farnborough International hosted the inaugural Global Urban Air Summit in the UK from September 4th to 5th this year. The conference brought together key players and regulators in the aerial mobility industry with the goal of stimulating productive conversations between key stakeholders. “The event [included] two days of...
The Global Urban Air Summit hosted aerial mobility technologies, partnerships, and debates.
Farnborough International hosted the inaugural Global Urban Air Summit in the UK from September 4th to 5th this year. The conference brought together key players and regulators in the aerial mobility industry with the goal of stimulating productive conversations between key stakeholders. “The event [included] two days of conference sessions, networking, knowledge sharing and demonstrations, with the international community brought together by GUAS set to play a key strategic role in driving the industry forward,” according to the host.
“Already today, the race is on – 150 prototypes have already been announced to the market.” Guillaume Thibault, a partner at Oliver Wyman, took the stage at the event to highlight the rapidly expanding industry and the technologies developed by companies hoping to reach the market soon. However, it’s evident that the the technology is far ahead of the necessary regulation and infrastructure for standing up commercial operations. Therefore, a main focus of the conference was pointed discussions surrounding aerial mobility operations and quantifying the market size to properly capture what is required from the regulatory perspective.
Operators such as Uber Air are eager to enter the market with nearly developed eVTOLs, but depend on collaboration and feedback from agencies such as the FAA and the UK’s CAA. The conference was an opportunity for innovators to demonstrate advances in electrification, autonomy and connectivity – all technologies that will be advantageous to the safe, reliable, and predictable operation of urban aircraft.
In addition, there are many ways the aerial mobility industry can adopt strategies already implemented in more mature industries. These were shared throughout the two days, and included an exciting presentation from Stu Olden, Senior Commercial Manager of Williams Advanced Engineering, who said learning from parallel industries was the high point of the summit. He likened the challenges to those of the Formula One industry – reliable battery management systems, environmental pressures, and rapid technology development were all touched upon.
Why it’s important: GUAS is the first event of its kind in the sector, and concentrated more on practical engagement between the communities of interest. Gatherings of this sort are a step in the right direction for coordinating how urban air mobility will navigate a complex regulatory environment and integrate with other transportation methods.
Source // Farnborough International
MOU signed between Pegasus Universal Aerospace and aviation consultancy, Callen-Lenz. The two companies now have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an exclusive collaboration to design and develop the Pegasus One flight controls system, which will enable the aircraft to deliver its powerful performance capabilities in all phases of flight, including transition from vertical take-off and hover, to forward horizontal flight....
MOU signed between Pegasus Universal Aerospace and aviation consultancy, Callen-Lenz.
The two companies now have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an exclusive collaboration to design and develop the Pegasus One flight controls system, which will enable the aircraft to deliver its powerful performance capabilities in all phases of flight, including transition from vertical take-off and hover, to forward horizontal flight. According to an interview with founder and Chairman Dr. Reza Mia, Pegasus “believe[s] that Callen-Lenz is the ideal partner for Pegasus. Their inventive approach to aerospace challenges, their expertise, and their willingness to embark on this exciting journey with us to deliver a unique proposition determined our selection process. We are excited to be working on this game changing project with them.”
Jonathan Webber, CEO of technical aviation consultancy Callen-Lenz, emphasized that “we have been invited to work with a number of new aircraft programs, but were extremely impressed by the ambition, vision and quality of the Pegasus VBJ project. As the race hots up to deliver new aircraft technologies, we are pleased to join forces with one of the most exciting airframes in development.”
The Pegasus team has already made great strides over the past year in developing multiple scale models. At the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva this year, the company unveiled a one-eighth-scale model of the all-composite aircraft and began taking pre-orders.
Related: Pegasus Universal Aerospace Appoints Robbie Irons as New CEO, July 2019
Why it’s important: The MOU with Callen-Lenz Group ushers in the next significant phase in the Pegasus One program, as the teams work closely with the Pegasus executive team, engineers and newly appointed chief pilot Captain Andrew Dietrich. Dietrich has over 16,000 hours of flight time, specializing in ultra-long-range commercial airliners, and will oversee compliance, safety, and flight operations throughout the testing of the aircraft. The experience and support of teammates like Captain Dietrich will work in favor of the company’s plan to develop a full-scale VTOL demonstrator to show in Europe in 2020.
Sources // Pegasus Aerospace; DefenseWeb
With many decades of experience in the aerospace industry, BAE Systems announced that they are preparing to offer energy management, avionics and power conversion systems that are scalable and adaptable for aircraft ranging from regional jets to small urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft. BAE Systems plans to offer both fully electric and hybrid electric systems. According to Yesh Premkumar, BAE...
With many decades of experience in the aerospace industry, BAE Systems announced that they are preparing to offer energy management, avionics and power conversion systems that are scalable and adaptable for aircraft ranging from regional jets to small urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft.
BAE Systems plans to offer both fully electric and hybrid electric systems. According to Yesh Premkumar, BAE System’s Business Development/Strategy Lead for Aircraft Electrification, “I think there is merit to both, and as a product supplier, we’re positioning ourselves to be able to play in both as demand and market trends change.”
Additionally, BAE Systems is working in coordination with other companies working in the UAM industry, including Uber Elevate partners, although specifics have not been released. “What Uber and its partners are trying to do is push electric platforms, and we see energy management systems and fly-by-wire/integrated control systems are critical to both safety and successful operation of the platforms,” said Premkumar, “We’re aiming to deliver the most simplified version of a solution that meets the operational needs of the platform without compromising on cost, safety, and reliability.”
BAE Systems intends to put out working prototypes by early 2021 for flight tests. According to Premkumar, what BAE Systems envisions in their prototypes is a control system similarly to that of traditional fly-by-wire systems — providing information from aircraft sensors to a flight controller, who sends commands to the surfaces and engine or engine controller — but more compact and integrated, similar to the FBW systems that Honeywell is currently developing. “We believe this will help reduce the number of boxes, improve reliability and economics of the control system.” BAE Systems are also discussing opportunities in the avionics and energy management industries with electric jet startup Wright Electric, according to Premkumar.
Why it’s important: BAE Systems plan to offer their products on the market by the mid-2020s, matching the timing of many aerospace companies and startups to begin flight operations in the UAM industry, which would be critical for commercial success. These new
Sources // Aviation Today
Successful integration of piloted air taxi into Air Traffic Management system Volocopter has successfully performed the first flight of an Air Taxi at an International Airport (Helsinki) integrated into both Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) systems. This demonstration is the final component of the Gulf of Finland (GOF) u-space project showing how ATM and UTM...
Successful integration of piloted air taxi into Air Traffic Management system
Volocopter has successfully performed the first flight of an Air Taxi at an International Airport (Helsinki) integrated into both Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) systems.
This demonstration is the final component of the Gulf of Finland (GOF) u-space project showing how ATM and UTM systems will enable Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The GOF space project is a portion of the larger Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Program. The GOF U-space flight trial demonstrated how ATM and UTM can act in combination to enable safe and efficient air taxi operation in urban environments, including airports.
Bye Aerospace, the developer of the two-seat all-electric eFlyer 2 aircraft, announced it has finalized the supplier agreement with Garmin to provide its eFlyer 2 with the full suite of new Garmin G3X Touch avionics. Garmin’s aviation business segment is a leading provider of solutions to OEM, aftermarket, military and government customers. The company’s portfolio includes navigation, communication, flight control, hazard avoidance,...
Bye Aerospace, the developer of the two-seat all-electric eFlyer 2 aircraft, announced it has finalized the supplier agreement with Garmin to provide its eFlyer 2 with the full suite of new Garmin G3X Touch avionics.
Garmin’s aviation business segment is a leading provider of solutions to OEM, aftermarket, military and government customers. The company’s portfolio includes navigation, communication, flight control, hazard avoidance, an expansive suite of ADS-B solutions and other products and services that are known for innovation, reliability, and value. This partnership with Garmin follows another announcement this month regarding a collaboration between OXIS Energy and Bye Aerospace to develop lightweight battery cells for the eFlyer.
“Garmin is supplying the full VFR to IFR instrument capability, ADAHRS, GPS, transponders and standby instruments,” said George E. Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. “We are so pleased that eFlyer 2 will utilize the most advanced avionics technology available. Garmin’s reputation for providing comprehensive, intelligible, superior avionics systems aligns with our goal to provide flight schools and owner/operators with the safest, most reliable, and innovative pilot training aircraft ever produced.”
“As the trusted leader in avionics, we are very excited pilots have the opportunity to fly behind the G3X Touch avionics suite in the eFlyer 2,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “The G3X Touch in the eFlyer 2 boasts a superior feature set with modern capabilities such as wireless connectivity and synthetic vision, as well as geo-referenced charts, traffic, terrain and more, offering advanced avionics capabilities in a glass cockpit that is both impressive and intuitive. We look forward to continuing our business relationship with Bye Aerospace as they bring the eFlyer family of aircraft to market.”
The eFlyer family of aircraft, including the eFlyer 2 and the 4-seat eFlyer 4, aims to be the first FAA-certified, practical, all-electric airplanes to serve the flight training and general aviation (GA) markets. Learn more about the recent orders placed for the eFlyer by Quantum Air and OSM Aviation Academy.
Why it’s important: As Bye Aerospace markets the eFlyer as an alternative flight trainer or GA aircraft, it is critical that pilots can find and rely on the same avionics and integrated systems found in today’s state-of-the-art aircraft. The commitment from Garmin to supply technology to Bye also demonstrates the manufacturer’s confidence in Bye Aerospace’s ability to certify and fulfill orders for the all-electric airplanes.
Source // Bye Aerospace
Elroy Air announced the successful completion of its first full-scale system flight test yesterday. The first flight of the 1215 lb prototype reached a height of 10 feet and hovered for 64 seconds before descending and landing safely. According to Elroy’s Medium Article on the first flight, the test was completed at 9:14AM PST on August 14th, 2019 at McMillan...
Elroy Air announced the successful completion of its first full-scale system flight test yesterday. The first flight of the 1215 lb prototype reached a height of 10 feet and hovered for 64 seconds before descending and landing safely.
According to Elroy’s Medium Article on the first flight, the test was completed at 9:14AM PST on August 14th, 2019 at McMillan Airfield at Camp Roberts, CA in partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School, and the aircraft was remotely piloted by the company’s lead test pilot.
“Today is an important step toward the future of logistics,” said David Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air. “Since the earliest days of powered flight people have wanted to use the skies for convenient, rapid cargo transport to anywhere. The airport-dependence of traditional manned air cargo options shows that air cargo still has great opportunity to evolve! Autonomous VTOL cargo systems will make the dream of ultra-responsive logistics possible, because they decouple air cargo from airports. These large cargo systems are about to become mainstream, and the Elroy Air team is leading the industry with our development of the Chaparral aerial cargo system.”
Elroy Air’s large cargo eVTOL system uses a hybrid-electric powertrain that enables long range deliveries. Additionally, the company emphasizes its cargo-handling automation for quick and safe loading and unloading of packages.
“The development is a response to a global pilot shortage and growing demand for more flexible and rapid logistics across all traffic and terrain scenarios on the ground. Autonomous air cargo transportation has the ability to improve the quality of life globally by increasing access to time-sensitive critical supplies,“ said Kofi Asante, Head of Strategy and Business Development.
“Developing a robust VTOL system at this scale of payload is a challenging feat that requires the right team and resources,” said Clint Cope, VP of Engineering at Elroy Air. “The set of flight-critical systems that all have to be working perfectly together for robust, repeatable performance is non-trivial. The Elroy Air team is a squad of experts who know exactly what it takes in their respective domains to build a world-class aerial cargo system. This flight is a huge milestone, because it validates what our team can do. We’ll celebrate this accomplishment with our investors and customers, then continue our work toward deployed systems.”