Eve is stepping up its efforts to test the basis on which eVTOL aircraft could operate air taxi services in crowded cities, with a planned urban air mobility (UAM) simulation in Chicago. In an August 23 announcement, the eVTOL aircraft developer said the exercise will involve helicopters operated as part of the rideshare network of its prospective customer Blade Air Mobility.
Last year, Eve conducted a similar exercise in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, with local helicopter charter operator Helisul Aviation providing aircraft for a structured 30-day trial to map out prospective routes and operating procedures with passengers on board. This work, which was also supported by flight booking service Flapper, resulted in the publication of a concept of operations for eVTOL flights in and around the city that has been presented to Brazilian air safety regulator ANAC.
Like Blade, Helisul also plans to add Eve's eVTOL vehicle to its fleet from 2026, and Flapper also intends to offer flights to its on-demand customers. Blade has also committed to adding the rival Beta Technologies' Alia eVTOL vehicle to its fleet.
Starting on September 14, Blade will arrange services around the Chicago area each morning and afternoon, with flights available to passengers via its app from the downtown Vertiport Chicago to "helistops" the northern suburb of Schaumburg and the southern suburb of Tinley Park. Eve, which will start ground testing on September 12, will study operations, ground services, passenger journeys, and eVTOL operator needs, allowing for more accessible and faster connections to the city center.
Eve will perform the ground tests at Vertiport Chicago simulating services, infrastructure, and equipment requirements for the eVTOL aircraft. The public company, which is majority owned by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, says that the study will help it to understand the infrastructure and ecosystem needed to enable the launch and expected long-term growth of UAM in a major North American city.
“Simulating the eVTOL operation in Chicago allows us to study how people will experience this service and understand the entire ecosystem requirements for our product and services, while showcasing the benefit of urban air mobility in one of North America's most prominent and populated cities,” said Eve co-CEO André Stein. “We are wrapping up preparations to execute these simulations seamlessly and look forward to helping prepare Chicago for a local zero-emission UAM solution that is quiet, efficient, and sustainable.”
The consortium of partners Eve assembled for the simulation also include regional airlines Republic Airways and Skywest, Halo Aviation, Vertiport Chicago, the villages of Tinley Park and Schaumburg, Spanish infrastructure and renewable energy conglomerate Acciona, and Brazilian UAM logistics specialist Speedbird Aero.
"For Eve, it is essential to understand and address through these projects involving partners and the community the key challenges associated with the main pillars of the UAM ecosystem,” said Eve vice president of services and fleet operations Luiz Mauad. “Our proposal brings together all stakeholders and counts on different views and feedback to structure and deliver the best solutions."