The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Volocopter Takes the Lead in Updated AAM Reality Index

German eVTOL developer Volocopter has jumped to the number-one ranking on SMG Consulting’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Reality Index, overtaking long-time front-runner Joby Aviation, which is now tied with EHang and Beta Technologies in second place.

With countless aerospace start-ups vying for attention in the nascent AAM industry, the AAM Reality Index aims to quantify the likelihood that a manufacturer will succeed in certifying its aircraft, putting it into service, and mass-producing it at a rate of thousands of units per year, according to SMG. The assessment tool calculates rankings on a scale of zero to 10 based on a variety of factors, including funding, certification progress, and production readiness. Those rankings are updated every couple of months, and SMG released its latest update on November 8.  

“Major changes are coming to the AAM Reality Index November 2023 release due to the addition of almost 40 percent new milestones for the funding, technology readiness, and production readiness parameters,” SMG co-founder and president Sergio Cecutta wrote on LinkedIn. “We think this added detail allows us to capture the differences between OEMs' progress much more accurately.”

The November 2023 update to the AAM Reality Index includes additional milestones to “take into account the differences in funding needed to scale up production,” according to SMG. It now distinguishes between subscale and full-scale technology demonstrators and prototypes. In determining a company’s production readiness, it also now distinguishes between low-rate initial production and mass-production capabilities. 

Production readiness appears to be the main factor contributing to Volocopter’s leap to the top with a score of 8.3, as it is the only eVTOL developer to have secured a production certificate. Although EHang recently became the first company to obtain a type certificate for commercial eVTOL operations, it has still not obtained its production certificate. 

Trailing closely behind Volocopter are EHang, Joby, and Beta, which tied for second place with index scores of 8.0. Archer Aviation takes third place with a score of 7.9, a slight drop from the 8.1 rating it received in August. Boeing-backed autonomous eVTOL developer Wisk Aero takes fourth place, with its index score dropping to 7.4 from 7.8. Wisk’s reduced score stems from its technology readiness, as the company has yet to begin flight testing with a full-scale prototype and is still flying with a subscale technology demonstrator. Eve Air Mobility and Vertical Aerospace take fifth and sixth place with rankings of 7.2 and 7.1, respectively.

The November release of the AAM Reality Index ranks 28 companies, and those rankings are publicly available online