Air Taxis Are Coming Next Year as per Global Business Aviation Leaders.
May 23, 2024, Geneva – Global business aviation leaders taking part in a panel discussion at the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2023) shared unique insights surrounding the impending launch of commercial, on-demand advanced air mobility (AAM), which is expected as soon as next year.
The 23 May Newsmakers Luncheon included a former and current chief aviation regulator, as well as executives from electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developers Joby Aviation, Lillium, and Volocopter. The discussion focused on critical issues including potential AAM applications, developing infrastructure, and AAM’s role in reaching zero-emission goals for the aviation industry.
“We want first of all to bring advanced air mobility and a sustainable network to everyone,”said Dirk Hoke, CEO at Germany-based Volocopter
Hoke pointed out that commercial operations for its battery-powered eVTOL are expected to begin next summer when the company plans to offer commercial passenger flights during the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“And we will not do it only for the Olympics, we will be there then for the years to come in Paris,”Hoke said
Paris has been working on the entire ecosystem for the launch of this service, including the business model, security, maintenance, and operations that support engineering – everything at the same time. And we have been able to get it in place in a dedicated field and to test everything.”Edward Arkwright, deputy CEO, Group ADP, Paris-Le Bourget Airport said
“What we’re creating next year with our partners at EASA and our partners in Paris is really the first sustainable navigation system in aviation,” said Volocopter Chairman Stefan Klocke. “This is something we shouldn’t underestimate.”
Mission and Infrastructure
The panel discussion took place as business aviation has committed itself to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. As these eVTOL developers close in on certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), they’re also focusing on potential applications for these aircraft.
Several eVTOLs currently under development are designed to fly passengers on short hops over traffic-congested areas, such as transporting travelers to and from airports that serve big cities. In fact, Joby has partnered with Delta Air Lines and Lilium has an agreement with NetJets to provide passengers with first- and last-mile flights to airports in Florida.
Cities such as Los Angeles, CA, are trying to get ahead of these plans by figuring out how to establish a network of vertiports that will serve as boarding areas, recharging stations, and maintenance and repair.
Former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who now serves on boards of directors for Delta Air Lines and Joby Aviation, said there will likely be a concern in New York, for example, surrounding the introduction of eVTOLs.
“There’s going to be an educational process where the public, politicians and others will come to understand this is radically different from helicopter travel,” Huerta said. “But I think it’s fair to say that cities are giving a lot of thought about how to support this, what kind of infrastructure they’ll need and also where it needs to be located to support their broader transportation objectives.”
“We treat these types of aircraft like any other type of aircraft, which means that our level of requirement is as high as for any [traditional] commercial aircraft,”said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky
Patrick Ky pointed out that EASA is focusing on three basic areas for AAM: design, pilot certification, and air traffic management.
Klaus Roewe, CEO at Germany-based Lilium, envisions the industry eventually providing longer-range, emission-free regional transportation.
“Maybe 15 years from now you will fly from Paris to Lyon. You will fly in an electric plane with zero emissions,” he said. “And that’s what we are after – showing it’s feasible.”