Dufour Aerospace, based near the Swiss Alps, believes in Regional Air Mobility as opposed to Urban Air Mobility.
Since 2015, Dufour Aerospace has worked on its vision for eVTOL mobility. It started with successful flights of the aEro1 electric airplane and is now working on building the prototype aEro2, a two-seater tilt-wing hybrid eVTOL capable of travel up to 800km.
Dufour Aerospace believes that while short-distance urban air vehicles like the Volocopter will one day emerge, longer distance ‘regional’ VTOL trips between cities rather within them are more imminent due to their higher time-saving potential.
For trips that would take several hours by car, many travelers prefer to fly by airplane. However, according to Dufour, the overhead time added to the trip by getting to and through the airport highly diminishes the time saved by flying. Dufour envisions that it’s ‘aEero3’ hybrid eVTOL could provide closer and quicker point-to-point travel between these destinations. For example, the overhead time for many airports is 60 minutes, while the overhead time for vehicles like the aEro3 could be as little as 30 minutes. See this visualized by Dufour below:
While traditional airplanes can fly faster than the aEro3, the time overhead time travelers could save by using regional eVTOLs often makes them more desirable. Dufour demonstrates this by creating a map showing the quickest total transit times to MIT from places in the Boston and Washington D.C areas and MIT:
Dufour also provided the below analysis for transit times comparing the three transportation modes by distance. This graph was created using a database of door-to-door transit times between destinations in the Washington D.C and Boston area in the U.S:
For the next ten years, Dufour feels that mid-range journeys of 25km to 800km are where hybrid (not pure electric) eVTOLs can deliver the most value. According to Dufour, “significant time savings over cars will not be easy to achieve with eVTOLs within cities because, while they are much faster, their passengers will need to use heliports to embark and disembark.”
Dufour was recently selected as one of the Bilan top 50 startups in 2019. Read more about this latest achievement here.
Why it’s important: While Dufour understands the appeal to skip over traffic by air, it has chosen to look at where eVTOL can save travelers the most time. Dufour believes that this is in journeys between 25 and 800km. The greatest takeaway from its recent study is that high overall time savings vs other modes of transportation is a highly important element to VTOL success.