Vertical take-off

No longer pie in the sky: urban mobility takes to the skies with eVTOL aircraft.

Six propellers allow for a gentle lift-off. From its standing point, the aircraft ascends vertically upwards, past the city skyscrapers until it can only be seen from a bird’s eye perspective. Lean back, enjoy the silhouette of the city from the comfort of your seat through the panoramic windows and arrive at your destination in just a few minutes. Sounds fascinating – and is 'pie in the sky', you may think? Not so: these so-called eVTOLs are ready for take-off. From next year, the first all-electric, manoeuvrable air taxis will be whizzing across major cities – heralding a new dimension in urban mobility.

Did you know what an eVTOL actually is? We were unfamiliar with the term until now. It is the abbreviation for 'electric vertical take-off and landing' and describes what the new urban flying drones are all about: they fly with purely electric power and can take off and land vertically, thanks to their design using several tiltable rotors. As a result, they do not require runways and can basically fly from any helipad. For large metropolitan regions in particular, this gives wings to mobility and offers a whole new level of comfort: from a business meeting in the city centre to the nearest airport? No problem. From one big city to another with the family? With pleasure. And in a time-efficient, direct (air) route and in an environmentally friendly way. The concept of sustainable urban point-to-point connections is common to all eVTOLs, but there are still differences: in their range, which varies from ca. 15 to 200 km; in the passenger capacity of 2 to 6 people; or in the flight itself, which can be fully autonomous or with a pilot.


One example is the electric air taxi from Joby Aviation. The elegant interior conveys the feeling of being in a high-quality SUV and offers comfortable space for four people. The pilot sits at the front and takes control via the digital network. While you need sound-insulating headphones when travelling in a conventional helicopter, the noise level here in the electric air taxi is pleasantly quiet and reaches conversational volume at most. One of the planned routes will connect the heliport in downtown New York City with JFK International Airport – in an incredible seven minutes. 1.500 engineers and experts at five locations in the USA and Germany lie behind the company Joby Aviation. It is not so much visionary start-ups with bold individual projects who are developing and building the eVTOLs. Rather, it is large companies from the aviation, industrial and high-tech sectors with hundreds of employees and well-known investors.


And there’s more good news: some eVTOL models are also available to private buyers. Instead of a second car, park your own electric jet in the garage and fly away on your trips in environmentally friendly style. Airev, an Israeli eVTOL company, has developed a compact two-seater with its Air One model; it has a range of around 60 km when fully charged and flies autonomously. If you want something even more exclusive, bigger and with a greater range, Lilium is the answer: with its Pioneer Edition jet, the eVTOL specialist based in Wessling near Munich has an exclusive premium model that offers space for the pilot and 4 to 6 passengers and has a range of around 175 km. A limited number of this elegant model will be made available to private buyers and offered via the American sales partner EMCJET.

Innovation and technical progress never cease to amaze and fascinate us. It is still hard to imagine that electric drones will soon be a natural part of the cityscape and that autonomous, digitally controlled flying will be part of everyday life. But the first eVTOLs will already be in use next year, making our mobility that much more comfortable and enjoyable. In Paris, among other places, the German eVTOL specialist Volocopter is planning to launch its first flights in time for the Paris Summer Olympics. The VoloCity air taxi flies routes within the city, while the VoloRegion passenger plane serves longer routes between the city and surrounding areas within a 100 km radius. The VoloDrone cargo drone completes this innovative flight trio. Thanks to the fast connections, you will have more time in the future in the Seine metropolis to enjoy French savoir vivre, art, culture, fashion and cuisine.

High-tech design and materials as well as stable, intelligent network structures meet the highest quality and safety standards. What’s more, eVTOL manufacturers are working closely with urban development bodies and regulatory authorities to determine suitable route networks, define regulatory measures and thus ensure the safe flight operations of electric drone pilots.

It is a huge movement: eVTOL development centres, production facilities and test centres have been established around the world. Thousands of test flights have been completed around the globe to make the eVTOLs safe, suitable for everyday use and ready for series production. The time is fast approaching. We are excited to see what awaits us in the real world of urban air mobility, which promises a better quality of life with less congestion and noise in cities. A flight in an eVTOL is also likely to be a completely new lifestyle experience: taking a seat in an autonomously flown air taxi or, even better, flying your own futuristic drone airplane, gliding over a metropolis in it and enjoying unique views and perspectives – this promises to be truly exhilarating. There is hardly a better way to combine efficient mobility with sustainability and comfort. The new era begins next year. Are you ready for a vertical take-off?


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