Aerospace engineers increasingly envision city skies buzzing quietly with electric air taxis. Known as eVTOL vehicles, or electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the zero-emission aircraft can launch and land like helicopters, but without the noise and fossil fuel consumption. Investors foresee them operating from urban “vertiports” that connect with large airports or shuttle people between regional cities. Electric aircraft could cost less to use than helicopters and provide a viable transportation option to the public.
Speed And Range Capabilities
Archer, an eVTOL startup, expects to unveil its first aircraft in 2024. Designers say that it will have a range of about 60 miles and be capable of a maximum speed of 150 mph. A 1-hour car ride could become a 15 or 20-minute flight.
Heavy eVTOL Investment
Seeing potential in these small, short-range passenger vehicles, United Airlines has invested in the eVTOL startup Archer and ordered 200 aircraft for a cost of $1 billion.
Automaker money is on the table too for eVTOLs. The merger of the automakers Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot formed the company Stellantis, which has also invested in Archer.
The companies Solvay and Vertical Aerospace have agreed to collaborate and build an eVTOL. Solvay brings advanced composite and adhesive materials to the venture, and Vertical Aerospace specializes in sustainable aviation technologies. They plan to present the world with a working prototype, the VA-1X aircraft, by September 2021.
Safety And Cost Advantages
Electric motors are less vulnerable to breakdowns compared to conventional engines. Additionally, electric motors weigh less, which means a single aircraft could have many engines. Such redundancy would guard against the threat of total engine failure during a flight.
Electrical charging costs less than engines that directly burn fossil fuels. On top of reducing this expense, aerospace scientists are working toward autonomous eVTOLs operated by sophisticated software, which would eliminate the cost of paying a pilot.
How far do you think electric aerospace technology could go? Could it eventually work for long-range passenger flights?
Our mission is to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility. By creating the world’s leading air mobility network, we will help push the world towards a zero-emissions future.
- Build an aircraft to demonstrate the capabilities of electric VTOL
- Certify an aircraft that is just as safe as commercial airliners
- Launch commercial routes in cities & integrate autonomous systems for safety
Solvay is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. Our purpose—we bond people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress—is a call to go beyond, to reinvent future forms of progress and create sustainable shared value for all through the power of science. In a world facing an ever-growing population and quest for resources, we aim to be the driving force triggering the next breakthroughs to enable humanity to advance while protecting the planet we all share.
We bond with customers and partners to address today and tomorrow’s megatrends. As a global leader in Materials, Chemicals and Solutions, Solvay brings advancements in planes, cars, batteries, smart and medical devices, water and air treatment, to solve critical industrial, social and environmental challenges. You can count on our innovative solutions to contribute to safer, cleaner and more sustainable future.
ABOUT Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace believes passionately in the power of electric flight to change the way the world travels because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the planet you live on to get from A to B.
Founded by greentech entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2016, Vertical Aerospace has been disrupting the way aircraft are developed. Combining the rigour and discipline of aerospace with the pace and agility of F1 enables Vertical to develop cutting-edge electric aircraft.
VA-1X, Vertical’s flagship aircraft, is a piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) which will carry four passengers for 100 miles at cruise speeds of 150mph. It is currently in development with flight testing taking place in 2021, followed by certification in 2024 with initial commercial services starting shortly afterwards.