On The Radar
The UK’s Connected Places Catapult consortium has published a white paper summarizing the potential for air services on routes spanning 25 to 100 miles in a larger eVTOL aircraft that would carry 30 to 50 passengers. The Skybus concept builds on work done in 2021 by aerospace group GKN in partnership with Swanson Aviation Consultancy and planners Pascall+Watson.
The report outlines findings regarding four potential routes connecting outer London suburbs with the center of the UK capital, using facilities including a pair of small airfields, a business park, and a supermarket parking lot. The all-electric aircraft conceived by aerostructures group GKN looks like an oversized Chinook helicopter with six wing-mounted tilting rotors.
The partners maintain that travel from locations such as North Weald, Crayford, Brooklands Park, and Elstree could take as little as 40 minutes, including waiting times and walks to and from central London vertiports. The Swanson team modeled hypothetical flight schedules and anticipated demand and revenues based on an analysis of various pricing models for the envisaged flights.
In one model, for instance, they considered market response to a £25 ($30) price, which is fairly close to peak-time train fares on similar routes. At this point, the study concluded, Skybus operators would break even with a 75 percent load factor (i.e., selling just over 37 seats on each 50-seat aircraft). The study attempted to track the impact of reducing and increasing fares, and also the monetary value of anticipated time savings. It concluded that £20 is the optimal fare for a Skybus ticket.