The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Supernal Becomes Latest eVTOL Developer to Plan for Services in Miami

Hyundai Motor Company's eVTOL division Supernal this week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with city officials in Miami to work on plans to introduce air taxi operations and other advanced air mobility (AAM) services. The agreement, which was announced on March 1, means that Supernal is following rival eVTOL developers Archer and Lilium in targeting the south Florida city as a likely early adopter of its all-electric vehicle.

The latest MOU creates a mechanism for the city to work with industry and community stakeholders to develop “inclusive and forward-thinking policies” to promote the establishment of a sophisticated network of AAM operations. The South Korean automaker plans to bring its five-seat SA-1 model into commercial service by 2028 and said that it expects to start the FAA's type certification process in 2024. Hyundai foresees single-pilot operations initially but it hopes to later operate flights autonomously.

Supernal is designing the S-A1 to cruise at up to 180 mph and fly at altitudes of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet on trips of up to 60 miles. Plans call for the aircraft to use a distributed electric propulsion system with multiple rotors and propellers. The company claims this approach reduces noise and increases safety by decreasing single points of failure. During peak hours, the propulsion system would require about five to seven minutes for recharging. 

"We are honored to play a role in responsibly co-creating the future of mobility AAM, which has the potential to transform communities by enabling efficient inter- and intracity transport, including access to traditionally underserved and remote locations, reducing carbon emissions, and providing a seamless, end-to-end passenger experience, among other benefits, for the city of Miami," said Jaiwon Shin, CEO of Supernal and president of Hyundai Motor Group. "Because of the leadership demonstrated by [Miami] Mayor [Francis] Suarez, our work together will help establish the city of Miami as a model for AAM market development we hope to replicate in other cities."

As part of the MOU, Supernal and the city plan to collaborate with community organizations to identify gaps in existing transportation, determine how AAM can help, and, if needed, recommend new policies. The agreement also includes launching workforce development and education initiatives that involve recruiting and incubating local talent and integrating AAM into existing transit networks, such as Metrorail, Metrobus, and Metromover.

Venture Miami—the bridge-building team in the mayor's office responsible for developing the city's innovation and technology ecosystem—will oversee key aspects of the MOU and convene regular working-group meetings and collaborations with influential community, business, and education leaders to outline the necessary steps to bring AAM to Miami.

"Our partnership with the city of Miami is about more than selling electric air vehicles or securing rights to establish operations," said Diana Cooper, global head of policy and regulation of Supernal. "At this stage, our interest is bringing together different public and private sector voices to explore when and how AAM can address the city's transportation needs and challenges…From there, we will create a roadmap together based on community input and other considerations. When Miami succeeds, Supernal succeeds."

Supernal launched as the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group in January 2020 and was rebranded as Supernal in November 2021. Along with working with public and private stakeholders to shape the emerging AAM industry, Supernal is developing a family of electric air vehicles and plans to launch its first commercial flight in 2028.

Almost a year ago, Archer confirmed plans to start air taxi operations in Miami by 2024. Only four months earlier, the German eVTOL developer said it would partner with Tavistock Development Company and the city of Orlando to build a vertiport at the heart of a new residential community as part of the wider Aerotropolis business park, which sits adjacent to Orlando International Airport.