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Saving 40 hours a month – LYTE and AAM Institute plan AAM alternative to lengthy ground commutes in Seattle

Earlier this month the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Institute and LYTE Aviation announced plans to replace the 90 minute journey for Microsoft employees taking the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle and then the ground transport route from Seattle to Redmond with a 10 minute AAM route. The AAM Institute is working with LYTE Aviation, a UK company developing a 40-seater eVTOL SkyBus, on the project.

“I was taking an Uber to the Denver airport and shared a bit about our work at the AAM Institute and my driver mentioned that the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle supports quite a few daily commuters,” said the AAM Institute’s President and CEO Dan Sloat.  “I did a deep dive into the research to understand what commuters faced. As it turns out, for someone who lives on the other side of the Puget Sound to get to work let’s say in Redmond, WA at the Microsoft Headquarters, it would take upwards of 90 minutes each way between the ferry, the congested traffic in downtown Seattle, the toll roads and bridge across Lake Washington. The pilot program route will track almost entirely over water and naturally will not experience any ‘traffic jam’ or road construction delays.

“Long daily commutes exceeding an hour are stressful, inefficient, and often come with a high carbon footprint,” he told Urban Air Mobility News. “The reason we are especially excited about this pilot program is that with a 40-passenger capacity, Lyte is providing a realistic alternative to a ferry and automobile with a safe, convenient, and affordable solution that is significantly better for the environment and much faster. In fact, it’s possible that this AAM solution can save two hours per workday which is 40 hours per month. What would you do with an extra 40 hours each month?

Dan Sloat

“Our future SkyBus is an ideal proposition for the ‘Bainbridge Island – Seattle – Redmond’ connection,” said LYTE Aviation founder and CEO Freshta Farzam.  “It will provide a safe, convenient, affordable, sustainable, and much faster transportation option…. We chose to design an alternative to the ferry route from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, plus the ground traffic from Seattle to Redmond to support the employees of the corporate headquarters of Microsoft,” Freshta added.

“There are almost 53,000 employees travelling each day over waterways and congested roadways,” she said. “It makes this air transportation alternative a fascinating user case for us.  Soon, after a long day of work, the daily commute of around 40km will take only 10 min instead of 90min.  The SkyBus can take off from a landing pad (also known as a vertiport) at the Microsoft campus straight and land at a vertiport pad on the island. The future is faster and more feasible than we realise.”

The aircraft is being designed to be five times more fuel efficient than a helicopter, 10 times less noise polluting than a helicopter, with considerably fewer MRO costs.  With its tandem tilt-wing technology, power will come from hybrid-hydrogen-electric turboprops and electric engines.  “The SkyBus is an ideal solution to extend current ferry transport solutions on waterways in the near future for passenger mass and cargo transit,” added Freshta.

“Lyte Aviation Founder & CEO, Freshta Farzam, and I connected in early April to discuss collaboration opportunities with our non-profit research center, the AAM Institute,” said Dan Sloat. “I was immediately struck by her visionary approach to pursue bold, innovative use cases for this emerging eVTOL technology. We set to work to identify a relevant pain point for American citizens that could be alleviated by the LA-44 SkyBus. The SkyBus will operate with hybrid propulsion to accommodate much higher payloads than many of its eVTOL peers.”

Skybus is a heavyweight passenger mass transit vertical take-off and landing aircraft branded the SkyBus LA-44.  It is also designing a cargo variant, SkyTruck LA-44C, offering a payload capacity of 4.5 tons.

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