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By Tim Chun-Hing Li, Aviation analyst at Cirium Ascend Consultancy
Cirium launched its Advanced Air Mobility and Electric Aircraft Sector Datasets in April last year. The market sector is increasingly broad so for the purposes of this analysis we have divided the space between eVTOLs and Regional Electric aircraft.
Data coverage to date includes an increasing number of types summarized in the table below.
|eVTOL – UAV/UAS||ALIA-250c|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||ALIA-250|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||ANN2|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Aero3|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Atea|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Butterfly|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||CopterPlane CP-01||Recently added type|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Cora|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||E20 eVTOL||Recently added type|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||EH216|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Eve|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Journey|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Lilium Jet|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Midnight|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Odys eVTOL||Recently added type|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||Prosperity 1||Recently added type|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||S4|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||SD-05||Recently added type|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||VT-30|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||VX4|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||VoloCity|
|eVTOL – Urban Air Mobility||VoloConnect|
|Business Electric – Multi Engine||Electra eSTOL|
|Business Electric – Multi Engine||Alice|
|Business Electric – Multi Engine||Electron 5||Recently added type|
|Business Electric – Multi Engine||M200|
|Business Electric – Multi Engine||eFlyer 800|
|Business Electric – Single Engine||CX300||Recently added type,|
|Business Electric – Single Engine||Cassio 330||Recently added type|
|Regional Electric – Small||ERA|
|Regional Electric – Small||ES-19||Type cancelled by OEM|
|Regional Electric – Small||ES-30|
|Regional Electric – Small||Maeve 01||Recently added type|
|Regional Electric – Small||PHA-ZE 100||Recently added type|
eVTOLs – Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
Nearly 500 new commitments have been announced since our last Snapshot in May, most of them during the Paris Air Show in June. These commitments come from some well-established corporations including Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC), ADAC Luftrettung, Wideroe and Voar. Increasing involvement from companies with no aviation-related background is being seen, including Korea’s major internet service provider, Kakao (50 VX4) and a subsidiary of Osaka’s oldest taxi operator Daiho, Soratobu. Subsequently, the data now records a total of more than 8,300 non-binding commitments with 19 different AAM OEMs from over 80 different customers.
|New Commitment from||Type||Quantity|
|Kakao Mobility||Vertical Aerospace VX4||50|
|Soratobu, Daiho Taxi Co.||Plana CopterPlane CP01||50|
EVE, the project from Embraer’s subsidiary Eve Air Mobility, continues to hold the leading position in the market with 2,850 known commitments from more than 20 different companies. Its design features a four plus one seating capacity, eight electrical propellers and a distributed electrical propulsion system (DEP). A DEP is characterised by having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so that if one of them fails, the other working motors and propellers safely land the aircraft. Its landing gear is helicopter-type skids.
Vertical Aerospace Ltd was founded by OVO Energy CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick and its VX4 design has total known commitments of 1,550 from 11 customers. Its design also features a four plus one seating capacity, eight electrical engines, and a DEP system. Contrary to Eve, it features retractable tricycle-wheeled landing gear.
As we enter the post-COVID era, major sports events and exhibitions are resuming globally, which provides opportunity to make headline news. Taking Paris Air Show as an example, although it is hard to hear the motor sound from the quiet demo-flights by Volocopter’s Volocity, especially when the jet blast from all other aircraft can easily cover it up, the eVTOL has successfully made some noise and wowed the public. With 2024’s Paris Olympics and 2025’s Osaka World Expo lining up, some of the players in the industry are aiming to steal the spotlight by not just offering flight demonstrations but providing commercial eVTOL flight service during these occasions.
With less than 12 months until the opening of the Paris Olympic 2024 on 26 July 2024, Volocopter is reiterating its plan to commence commercial operations with its Volocity eVTOL aircraft. This battery-powered multirotor is designed to seat two people with a relatively limited range of just 35km, a much smaller aircraft compared to the EVE and VX4. However, it is not shy of publicity and has completed multiple manned public demo-flights across the world. The type currently has 362 commitments, but that excludes any aircraft that Volocopter may initially be operating themselves. The German-based OEM’s progress to operate flights in Paris is assured by DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) in their latest press release, saying “the launch is on track”.
On the other side of the world, a government led AAM initiative is up and running in Japan.
Hosting the World Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan aims to take this opportunity as the first step towards AAM implementation in the country by operating commercial eVTOL flights between Yumeshima and the densely populated Kansai downtown area.
This initiative drives most, if not all major Japanese businesses to invest in the sector. Aside from placing commitments with big names like VX4, EVE and Volocopter, they have also invested into the local AAM OEM SkyDrive. The OEM currently has a battery-powered multirotor concept, namely the SD-05, capable of flying 3 people for 15km. In terms of flight operations, the two major Japanese airlines, ANA and JAL, have been appointed to operate eVTOL flights during the Osaka World Expo 2025.
Taking a step backward from all this exciting news, certification progress is certainly the elephant in the room – is it possible to manage a complex certification process within the required timescale to render commercial eVTOL passenger flights possible?
To illustrate the complexity, taking the well-established commercial passenger flight service sector as an example, multiple certifications have to be obtained. Aside from the Type Certificate of the aircraft (which has to be designed and manufactured with Design Organization Approval and Production Organization Approval issued), operators have to obtain the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in order to provide commercial flight service, as well as Operating Licenses for each specific routes. To ensure the continuous airworthiness of the aircraft, in most cases, operators will be the Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization themselves and maintain their aircraft through an Approved Maintenance Organization (MRO).
In addition, as a completely new class of asset, new standards for eVTOL regarding the take-off and landing aerodromes as well as qualifications of pilots are required.
All of these above are interdependent, and that is where the Japanese Government led initiative potentially provides an advantage by having better coordination and support within the country in this top-down approach. Nonetheless, the challenge of getting all these completed in two years are significant, but success would be a major milestone towards making the implementation of AAM a reality.
Business Electric – Multi Engine
In the business/regional electric category, there are 11 main contenders with a combined total of almost 1,700 commitments to date.
At Heart Aerospace ES-19 has been changed to ES-30, and it currently has a total commitment number of 430, accounting for over 22% of the total order book. Aura Aero’s ERA remains at a 20% share and the Electra eSTOL at 18%.
United Airlines and Mesa Airlines lead the way in this category with 100 orders and 50 options each for Heart’s ES-30, giving them each a 33% share of total commitments.
Beta’s CX300 is a new type being recorded. CX300 is a variant from their Alia-250 aircraft, being a fully electric eCTOL aircraft certified under FAA CS-23 small aircraft category. The type currently has a total of 128 commitments from Bristow and Air New Zealand.
As an overview, regional electric aircraft is gaining less traction in the APAC area, lacking commitments from airlines for regional operation like Mesa Airlines in the US. After-all, APAC operators prefer to operate bigger planes, while on the other hand these electric aircraft designs only have a maximum of 30-seat capacity at this moment. It is extremely rare to see a 40-seaters even on regional routes. So far, Air New Zealand is the only airline in the region which has electric aircraft commitments, aiming to provide zero emission domestic flight services with those 23 9-seater Eviation Alice by 2027.
The Ascend by Cirium AAM team will continue to provide valuable insight to the market. We would be pleased to hear any thoughts, comments or feedback you may have, so do not hesitate to contact us.
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