Embraer has partnered with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to explore plans for electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs). The plans could see air taxis and eVTOLs enter the UK airspace and provide speedy connections in crowded urban cities like London. Let’s find out more about this project.
Fly over cities
The concept of air taxis and electric planes carrying passengers over cities sounds straight out of a fictional utopia. However, the concept is not as novel as it seems, with manufacturers working towards making this a reality. To actually deploy such aircraft, however, requires significant regulatory debate and approval.
Kickstarting this process, Embraer subsidiary Eve and a consortium of others have joined the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) ‘regulatory sandbox’ to draw up a concept of how air taxis and eVTOLs would function in the UK’s airspace. The consortium includes the likes of Heathrow and London City Airport, Skyports, and more.
In a statement, Head of Innovation at the UK CAA, David Tait, said,
“The Regulatory Sandbox was established to create an environment where innovation in aviation can be explored in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s core principles of safety, security, and consumer protection. This project was selected to join the Sandbox as it will help us to develop a strategic framework for harmonizing the low-level airspace, which will support the development of urban and regional air mobility operations across the UK.”
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As a part of its study, the consortium will examine the possible routes that electric planes could take. One interesting route being simulated is transporting passengers between London City and Heathrow Airport with stops on the way. This would likely cut down the travel time between the airports from one hour to just a few minutes.
There are currently helicopter services that can be flown between the two usually busy airports and hence all flight paths are for helicopters. The consortium hopes to establish airspace especially for eVTOLs and air taxi services in the future.
The team will use results from the upcoming simulation to examine the impact on the airspace, methods to reduce community noise, and possibly make draft policies for test flights in the future.
Still some time to go
While we might be getting closer to testing out electric planes in urban cities, actual service remains far away. However, considering the environment-friendly nature of electric aircraft and the chance to decongest busy cities, many are excited by such a prospect.
The recent news of the FAA approving policies for commercial drone deliveries by companies like Amazon could provide a pathway to more accessible airspace. For now, most of us will all likely remain firmly on the ground while commuting within cities.
What do you think about Embraer’s plans? How soon could we see eVTOLs in the sky? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!