Tech firms warned to ‘walk before they can run’ over vertical takeover aircraft

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood August 8, 2019 10:09

Tech firms warned to ‘walk before they can run’ over vertical takeover aircraft

A new IDTechEx report has heaped praise upon new technologies in the aerospace industry.

The “Manned Electric Aircraft 2020-2030” highlights manufacturers such as Bye Aerospace for “walking before they try to run”. Like Tesla with cars, the firm started with two-seater pure-electric vehicles and progressed to four – in this case, fixed-wing aircraft. Sales of these as air taxis and pilot trainers are booming with Bye alone attracting $165 million in business in about one year.

Ampaire has very advanced electric aircraft technology but it has started with a relatively straightforward replacement of one engine in a small Cessna to create hybrid electric versions. Substantial orders have been rapidly gained.

IDTechEx CEO Raghu Das also has concerns about most of the 100 or so developers of vertical takeoff and landing VTOL pure electric aircraft.

He said: “We believe that pure electric VTOL will eventually be a great success. Uber has deep pockets and realistically long timescales for such aircraft, knowing they have huge hurdles to overcome.

“That includes batteries currently unable to provide long enough endurance for good margins of safety, particularly over a city, radical changes needed to air traffic control, to regulations and more. Technical options are constrained. For example, some fixed-wing pure electric aircraft are approaching five hours 1000km endurance while VTOL too often means one hour, a wish and a prayer.

“These problems take a long time to solve. For example, solar airframes make sense for longer range fixed-wing aircraft but not VTOL. Very patient investors are hard to find and most VTOL developers would be wise to learn from companies such as Bye, Ampaire and those converting seaplanes to electric and walk before they try to run.”

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood August 8, 2019 10:09