Airbus’ full electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype. Photo: Airbus website
Airbus’ full electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype. Photo: Airbus website

Is eVTOL a boon or bane? It depends on how we put it to use

The electric aircraft has low maintenance and operating costs and can be extremely beneficial for emergency situations

Imagine — a taxi that uses electric power to fly at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour and has the capability to takeoff, hover and land vertically. While the vehicle sounds like a helicopter, it does not require the high fuel and maintenance costs of one or even an elaborate helipad! This is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or an eVTOL, that can function on any open ground or rooftop.

Lilium, a German company, has already begun producing battery packs for its Lilium Jet and hopes to obtain European Union Aviation Safety Agency type certification as early as 2026.

Back home, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras-incubated ePlane Company is expected to launch its e-flying taxis in Bengaluru this year, pending Directorate General of Civil Aviation approval. European corporation Airbus’s eVTOL project, CityAirbus, is also scheduled to undertake its maiden flight later in 2024. 

Balkiz Sarihan, head of urban air mobility for Airbus, in a statement on March 7, 2024, said:

Rolling out CityAirbus NextGen for the very first time is an important and very real step that we are taking towards advanced air mobility and our future product and market.

Airbus’s vehicle will have an 80 km operational range and a cruise speed of 120 km/h. It has been designed “with quiet flights in mind” to make it suitable for use in cities.

The United Kingdom may see the first eVTOL flying taxi flight in the country by 2026.

However, the Indian government has yet to establish clear policies regarding eVTOL flying taxis. This technology will necessitate much more precise route planning, collaboration with public works departments, and a dedicated air traffic control unit.

eVTOL is a technology that is seeing rapid research and development across the world. It is expected to cut through the road traffic for daily commute and cargo delivery and even be used for military purposes. Also, they will be flying much closer to the ground, unlike traditional aircraft. This technology's widespread adoption will be aided by its electric nature and low maintenance and operating costs. 

This technology is extremely beneficial for emergency situations such as urgent medical care. If it is certified by Indian government agencies, it will most likely carve out a niche as a premium and/or emergency service in India's congested cities.

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