Aerial mobility made another big splash as NBAA-BACE returned to in-person events in Las Vegas. This year, aerial mobility had an increased presence with over 9 eVTOL firms attending.
“NBAA-BACE serves an important place to not only showcase innovation across our industry but to also discuss how these emerging technologies will be implemented,” said NBAA Senior VP of government affairs Christa Lucas. “We’re pleased to bring together these influential policymakers and thought leaders to host an important conversation about current work in the AAM space, how each agency is preparing and planning, and future policies and regulations in this space.”
This year’s focus was on bolstering support of public buy-in on eVTOL technologies. With climate change affecting the world in which we live and coming mandates for cleaner forms of transportations, it is clear there is a future need for clean aerial mobility.
One of the highlights of the week was a panel moderated by Cyrus Sigari, co-founder and managing partner of UP.Partners. The panel included Eric Allison, head of product at Joby Aviation; Kyle Clark, CEO of Beta Technologies; Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility; Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Kitty Hawk Corp.; Melissa Tomkiel, president of Blade Urban Air Mobility; and Benjamin Tigner, CEO of Overair.
In pursuit of wider public support, each of the panelists agreed that the noise footprint generated by eVTOL vehicles is the top priority. Many of the manufacturers listed above have engineered innovative ways to tackle the noise issue through next-generation electric motors and prop-wash dissipation technologies. Companies dedicated to reducing eVTOL noise footprints like Mark Moore’s Whisper Aero are also working on commercial products and propulsion platforms to offer to eVTOL OEM’s.
Melissa Tomkiel, president of Blade Urban Air Mobility, said that it will be critical to develop infrastructure in urban centers, partly by using existing heliports, but also developing new vertiports in conjunction with local governments. “We’ll also have to overcome the stigma of urban-air transport being too expensive for the general public,” she said. “That’s one of the big challenges.”
Kitty Hawk CEO, Sebastian Thrun, closed stating, “The next time you’re stuck in traffic. Imagine that your car can fly. It’s always been the dreamers who change the world, and dreamers like us think you don’t have to be stuck in traffic, simply by democratizing flight.”
Why it matters: NBAA is the largest event of the year for business aviation and shows that aerial mobility not only has survived the COVID-19 pandemic, but is thriving. Each of the manufacturers featured are aware of the challenges that lie ahead in getting their products to market and have strategies for bolstering public support.