2021: A Year of Advancements for eVTOLs

On February 10th, United Airlines provided a major vote of confidence not only to Archer Aviation but also the pioneering spirit and future vision held by many other companies that are developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft around the globe right now. Beyond the agreement to acquire up to 200 eVTOL aircraft, it gives this new segment of aviation a new level of commercial awareness and near term viability.

During the same week that Archer Aviation established its new agreement with United Airlines, Joby Aviation also achieved a major new program milestone, announcing that it has has agreed to G1 certification conditions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the company announced on Feb. 9. The company also announced that it has achieved its next milestone in the Agility Prime program by beginning to generate revenue.

But there’s even more to be excited about beyond the emergence of United Airlines as a future operator of eVTOLs. The executive director of the Federal Aviation Administration's unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) office, Jay Merkle, also expects the agency will certify the first UAM aircraft this year. "And we've got probably two or three others right behind,” Merkle said during an appearance at the Vertical Flight Society's 2021 Electric VTOL Symposium last month. “And based on those companies’ projections, they really want to begin operations by 2023. Those are more testing and operations and then really commercial for-fee services around 2024.”

We're not even into the third month of 2021, and already some of the biggest eVTOL companies are making it a transformative year for this segment. In this issue of Avionics, we dedicated every article to a different aspect of the future UAM ecosystem.

Kelsey Reichmann provides the biggest industry highlights provided by some of the biggest eVTOL companies during the annual Electric VTOL Symposium. Frank Wolfe talks to several avionics companies that have been selected as suppliers to eVTOL programs, and James Careless returns to summarize some of the latest technological advancements for eVTOL battery power. We also feature our 10 eVTOL aircraft developers to watch in 2021 and give insights from experts on electric air taxi investment trends as well.

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