The Covid pandemic has not slowed the pace of new eVTOL aircraft developments, according to the Vertical Flight Society (VFS). The U.S.-based group, which will hold its 8th annual Electric VTOL Symposium from January 26-28, this week reported that investment in new products in 2020 maintained the recent annual rate of around $1 billion.
VFS estimates that around $5 billion has been invested in new eVTOL aircraft and supporting systems to date, with much of the capital originating from outside the mainstream aerospace industry. The group’s World eVTOL Aircraft Directory now includes as many as 407 different eVTOL concepts generated by around 245 companies, with most of these having entered the new sector since 2017 and with around two dozen now having flown full- or large-scale examples of passenger-carrying aircraft.
VFS says that “thousands” of engineers, programmers, and technologists are now employed by eVTOL pioneers, many of which are startups. “The past year saw continued growth and progress in eVTOL development,” said executive director Mike Hirschberg. “Our members in industry, academia and government agencies around the world have been tackling the toughest challenges in vertical flight, proving out the promise of this new approach to air mobility.”
The Electric VTOL Symposium will feature keynote presentations by leaders from the FAA, NASA, and the U.S. military, as well as from companies including Boeing, Joby Aviation, and Honeywell. In total, the event will include more than 50 speakers and will see the release of 25 new technical papers on drones, autonomous flight, and advanced air mobility.
VFS was founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society. It plans to hold its 77th Annual Forum and Technology Display on May 11-13 in West Palm Beach, Florida.