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.
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help. World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a...
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help.
World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a luxury personal vehicle. As announced on October 10, the memorandum of understanding between Boeing and Porsche describes their plan to explore technologies for “premium personal urban air mobility vehicles.”
As part of the partnership, the companies will create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases. Boeing, Porsche, and Aurora Flight Sciences are also developing a concept for a fully electric VTOL aircraft. Engineers from both companies, as well as Porsche subsidiaries Porsche Engineering Services GmbH and Studio F.A. Porsche, will implement and test a prototype.
Since Boeing’s acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017, the two have been working together to develop and test various eVTOL prototypes, including the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV).
“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel,” stated Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche AG, in a press release. “We are combining the strengths of two leading global companies to address a potential key market segment of the future.”
According to Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s innovation division, Boeing NeXt, the collaboration with Porsche “builds on our efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem, and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand. Porsche and Boeing together bring precision engineering, style, and innovation to accelerate urban air mobility worldwide.”
Why it’s important: Much of the innovation and development in the aerial mobility industry has been geared toward commercial applications that will be leased or owned by operators. While the technology will ultimately grow fastest and see widespread use through commercialization, personal luxury vehicles have great potential to provide manufacturers with necessary revenue, through fewer high price tag sales, for expansion and further technological development. Aerial mobility may also benefit from a public acceptance standpoint if personal vehicles begin to enter the airspace prior to the high-volume operation of “airlines” such as Uber Air.
Source // Boeing
Boeing NeXt, the company’s disruptive mobility arm, has been focused on a global airspace integration effort to create a world in which autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. To create the transportation systems of the future, Boeing has been developing the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV), and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV). Both are autonomous systems designed to fill a...
Boeing NeXt, the company’s disruptive mobility arm, has been focused on a global airspace integration effort to create a world in which autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. To create the transportation systems of the future, Boeing has been developing the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV), and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV). Both are autonomous systems designed to fill a gap in the urban and regional mobility of currently available air systems. Just in January of 2019, the PAV completed its first test flight which can be seen here.
The Boeing CAV is 17.5 feet long (5.33 meters), 20 feet wide (6.1 meters) and 5 feet tall (1.52 meters), and weighs 1100 pounds. It is electrically powered by six pairs of counterrotating propellors expected to carry a maximum payload of 500 pounds. In a 2018 interview, Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop explained the Cargo Air Vehicle as a “convergence of technology in terms of hybrid-electric propulsion, vertical takeoff and landing, and autonomy that is going to unlock air travel in ways that we have not seen it before.”
To learn more about the technical specifications of Boeing’s CAV, visit the Hangar.
Earlier this week, Boeing completed its first test flight of the CAV in an outdoor environment, where the vehicle successfully took off, hovered, transitioned to forward flight and then landed safely. Until now, Boeing NeXt has been completing test flights of its propulsion system in controlled environments such as the Boeing Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) Wind Tunnel in Ridley Park, PA. After a rigorous program of indoor testing, flight simulations and lab research, the eVTOL is now ready to move to the next stage. Boeing has plans to continue advancing the development of the CAV with test flights focused on forward flight, loads analysis and vehicle performance.
Why its important: Boeing shows great initiative in urban air mobility technologies with the in-house design and development of both the Passenger and Cargo Air Vehicles. Its venture arm, HorizonX, continues to search for partnerships and synergies within the industry to leverage the advancements that Boeing is making in this technology of the future.
Source // Boeing press release
GoFly is an international competition to design, build, and fly a personal flying device. Grand Sponsor Boeing and Corporate Sponsor Pratt and Whitney have been able to reach a group of highly qualified competitors from across the globe. Thus far in the competition, 3,500 teams from 101 different countries have entered a design to be considered. Ten of those teams...
GoFly is an international competition to design, build, and fly a personal flying device.
Grand Sponsor Boeing and Corporate Sponsor Pratt and Whitney have been able to reach a group of highly qualified competitors from across the globe. Thus far in the competition, 3,500 teams from 101 different countries have entered a design to be considered. Ten of those teams were announced as the Phase I winners earlier in 2018, and the designs thoroughly impressed judges with their ingenuity and technical prowess.
GoFly CEO Gwen Lighter explained that “just like there there are many different types of cars available to drive, so too the diversity that we are seeing in the many different types of personal flying solutions that have been submitted will allow the public to be able to choose the best method for whatever they are doing at that particular moment. In that sense, it’s very exciting to see all the different permutations.” While the majority of the UAM industry is focused on multi-passenger transport, the mission for GoFly competitors is to transport just a single person.
Last week, GoFly announced the five winners of Phase II of the competition, each taking home $50,000. Three of the winning teams were from the USA, one from the Netherlands, and one from Russia and Latvia. Check out the vehicles each team designed below:
Phase II of the GoFly competition was the first time physical prototypes were unveiled for each team, and Phase III will require full-scale flying machines. However, phase III is not limited to just the five winners of phase II. Any team, regardless of having won a previous phase, or even entered in a previous round, can still register in the final fly-off competition. The winner will take home a grand prize of $1 million.
Why its important: GoFly has created an arena for some of the brightest aerospace minds to solve a complex transportation problem. The aerospace industry has previously seen these design-build-fly style competitions as a successful platform for crowdsourcing innovative ideas and to jumpstart development at a commercial level. It is a great way for engineers and industry professionals to collaborate and advance technologies in the UAM industry.
Source // GoFlyPrize.com
On August 28th, a new company called SkyRyse launched. SkyRyse is a new a air taxi statrup featuring a single-rotor helicopter with advanced tech features. It plans to launch air taxi services by 2019. The SkyRyse helicopter takes a major step toward autonomy for air taxis. It paves the way for the future of flying cars. The SkyRyse features an...
On August 28th, a new company called SkyRyse launched. SkyRyse is a new a air taxi statrup featuring a single-rotor helicopter with advanced tech features. It plans to launch air taxi services by 2019.
The SkyRyse helicopter takes a major step toward autonomy for air taxis. It paves the way for the future of flying cars. The SkyRyse features an advanced piloting system with situational awareness and intelligence. Its system will be able to use data from other flights to provide safer and more efficient options. The software automates much of the flight control systems, taking the mental workload and room for error off of pilots.
Designed by experts from Tesla, Boeing, SpaceX, and Uber, SkyRyse has raised $25 million in seed funding. Mark Groden, CEO and Founder, envisions initial operations supporting city’s emergency response units, including law enforcement, search-and-rescue missions, and firefighters. He says, “Because the stakes are highest in emergency response situations when minutes can mean the difference between life and death, we’re launching SkyRyse Emergency Response to support governments and municipalities first, with plans to change how we get around our cities in the future.”
Why It’s Important: While SkyRyse does not feature DEP (distributed electric propulsion), it’s launch marks a huge step in the right direction for air taxi vehicles. SkyRyse is quick-to-market approach to urban aviation mobility, using existing hardware to kickstart the industry. It’s launch promotes the acceptance of VTOLs as a usable form of transport, and pushes the technology of the industry further.
3 March 2018 || 1 min read The Boeing Co.’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg commented “I think it will happen faster than any of us understand” when asked about the time frame for commercialized air taxis and autonomous urban VTOL transports. Boeing’s recent acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences now means that Boeing owns stake in Uber’s Elevate Initiative since Aurora Flight Sciences...
3 March 2018 || 1 min read
The Boeing Co.’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg commented “I think it will happen faster than any of us understand” when asked about the time frame for commercialized air taxis and autonomous urban VTOL transports. Boeing’s recent acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences now means that Boeing owns stake in Uber’s Elevate Initiative since Aurora Flight Sciences is an existing partner with Uber on the project. A recent study by Deloitte estimates that by the early 2020’s five to eight passenger eVTOL’s will be commercially implemented in urban areas, and supports increasing industry sentiment that personal vertical urban transportation is growing towards fruition at a faster rate than initially predicted.