Electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), also known as air taxis, could soon replace helicopters for short-duration air travel.
- EVTOLs are all electric, easier to fly, cheaper, and do not pose as many safety risks leading many to think the vehicles could take a significant share of the $49-billion helicopter industry.
- Although the eVTOL market is just starting, many investors believe the market could reach $57 billion by 2035.
- Around 200 companies are racing to build the coveted air taxis and meet regulations. The taxis are expected to be in the air as early as 2025.
Why it’s news
Air taxis are the future of flight as millions are being poured into the growing sector with investors thinking the vehicles could soon replace helicopters.
Over 200 companies are perfecting electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) or air taxis. The vehicles are small passenger aircrafts that look like planes but act like helicopters by taking off vertically.
The vehicles are environmentally friendly as they have been created to run off batteries rather than fuel and are quiet. The taxis have been designed to take off in small areas and fly over highly congested urban areas.
One of the main purposes is to allow passengers to use the vehicle like a taxi in large cities flying overhead and avoiding traffic.
The companies building the eVTOLS have developed a way to make them cheaper, safer, and quieter than the typical helicopter. Doing this would make the cost of transportation more affordable as well. Many investors say the price of a ride in an eVTOL would be comparable to that of an Uber Black ride, which is more affordable than a helicopter ride.
“Helicopters are very expensive to operate for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is that they have multiple points of failure, which eVTOL aircraft won’t,” says United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen. “The electrification makes the aircraft safer. Safer aircraft also become less costly to maintain.”
The aircrafts still await certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies. Once the aircrafts gain certification, they could be in the air as early as 2025.
Many companies see the possibilities in the eVTOL space and are investing millions to get the aircrafts in the air.
Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Chrysler vehicles, has partnered with air taxi startup Archer Aviation to commercialize flying taxis. The company invested $75 million into Archer in 2021 and is preparing to make another $150 million investment.
If everything goes to plan, Stellantis will be the primary manufacturer of Archer’s newest flying taxi prototype Midnight—which holds four passengers and is designed to make continuous 20-mile trips.
Archer aviation isn’t the only one nearing commercialization for flying taxis.
United Airlines made a $5-million investment in Eve Air Mobility, a company that produces flying taxis, while Delta Air Lines made a $60-million investment in a competing air-taxi company Joby Aviation Inc.
Many other companies are joining the rest in betting on the future of flight with air taxis.