TE advert. Click for website
Click Bond advert. Click for website

Why the next few weeks will be crucial for Europe’s eVTOL manufacturers

By Philip Butterworth-Hayes

The arithmetic is simple.

It takes around USD 1.3 billion to certify an eVTOL for commercial operations, give or take a few million. This is on top of the payroll, development, manufacturing, marketing and administration costs which have had to be increased every year for five years, prior to the certification process (Another USD 750 million).

After that, there are huge but uncertain costs for ramping up to full-scale component integration, assembly and developing the infrastructure to support the aircraft in service.

China’s EHang, the first eVTOL into the market, is part of a low-altitude economy strategy backed by both central government and regional local authorities. In the USA, the Department of Defense ‘s Agility Prime programme is underwriting a fair chunk of US commercial eVTOL programme development to give the US Air Force access to zero emission and runway independent aircraft.

But European eVTOL manufacturers do not have access to strategic government partners of this scale.

Both Lilium and Volocopter report that a lack of State and regional aid loan guarantees is now casting long shadows over their development programmes, just as the finishing line is coming into focus. In the UK, Vertical Aerospace was given a USD 50 million cash injection in January “supporting the continued development of the certification aircraft design following prototype testing this year. This certification aircraft will then go into final regulatory testing before production.”

So many European eVTOL developers find themselves in a race – to get their hands on type certification and the start of commercial operator deliveries before the development money dries up. But the final pre-commercialisation stage of any industry is always a mirage state: the closer to commercialisation you get, the further it moves into the horizon.

The next few months will be crucial for Europe’s eVTOL sector; this was always going to be the most dangerous time for the continent’s UAM eVTOLs and so it has proved.

(Image: Lilium)

Share this:
supernal advert. Click for website