Aircraft that are able to conduct vertical take-off and landing are known as VTOLs, and they often come in the form of drones, helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft, and more. VTOL technology presents a major benefit to urban operations, allowing aircraft to fly in dense areas where a conventional fixed-wing model would be unsafe. Additionally, many proposed VTOLs for urban areas are to be electrically powered, making them eVTOL vehicles. In this blog, we will discuss eVTOLs and how they have the potential to radically change aviation.
Just like any proposed fixed-wing aircraft with an electric engine, eVTOLS would derive their propulsion through electrical means. To do this, most prototype models are taking advantage of powerful lithium-ion batteries that provide enough energy for an eVTOL to traverse upwards of 200 miles. Generally, these battery modules are distributed into packs that are operated in parallel. As fast charging becomes more common, the lithium batteries of these eVTOLs will be able to be quickly charged for little wait between flights. Lilium is an example of a manufacturer who is developing fast charging technology, proposing a battery system that would reach a 100% charge in just 30 minutes.
While eVOTLs are still a ways away from entering the market and becoming commonplace, they are still of growing interest in the industry. For example, Fortune Business Insights predicts that the eVOTL market will reach a value of $23.21 billion by 2028 with consistent growth in the present and ample inventory interest. On the manufacturing side, a majority of entities are dedicated eVTOL-focused businesses, though there is backing from various notable aviation companies as well. For example, Boeing, Embraer, Airbus, United Airlines, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Stallantis are all investors in eVOTL technology, backing various eVTOL central entities.
Vertical Aerospace is one notable name in the eVOTL business, a United Kingdom based company that launched their VX4 model in 2020. With support from Honeywell and American Airlines, this eVOTL features a 4 passenger capacity while having a maximum speed of 202 miles per hour. As of the present, the VX4 aircraft has already received more than 1,300 preorders. Lilium, the company that we touched on before, is a German developer that is currently working on larger passenger designs that can seat up to 7 people. This eVOTL jet would also be able to travel at a speed of 175 miles per hour with an endurance of 155 miles. Alongside such examples, other notable entities include Joby, Archer, Beta, and Airbus.
Across all manufacturers, there are a number of eVOTLs designs that are being explored as well. For example, the tilt-thrust type is the most popular, utilizing position-changing thrusters to achieve lift alongside fixed-wings. Lift and cruise models are somewhat similar to helicopters, utilizing propellers to create lift while a fixed forward motor ensures forward movement. Multirotor models are the final major type, and they feature multiple fixed rotors that create lift and forward movement.
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