On The Radar
SMG Consulting has been closely tracking and supporting advanced air mobility since the new sector’s earliest days when there were certainly more doubters than backers. Sergio Cecutta and his California-based team have never shied away from making bold predictions, and its recently published latest outlook is no exception.
SMG's five predictions for the next 12 months represent insightful observations about a year that has been expected to see the launch of commercial eVTOL operations. There are hints of optimism from SMG, but some prescient caveats, too.
Starting with Volocopter, SMG’s experts say the German company will be the first Western manufacturer to certify an eVTOL aircraft. However, it does not expect this to be achieved in time for Volocopter to meet its declared objective of operating demonstration flights with its two-seat VoloCity vehicle during the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.
SMG also predicts that the FAA will issue a type inspection authorization to Joby Aviation for its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft. This would allow the company to start earning test flight credits toward the type certification it aims to secure in time for commercial operations to start in 2025.
On that note, SMG further envisages that both the FAA and its European counterpart, EASA, will at last finalize the regulatory framework for the new aircraft. The absence of certainty in all areas of regulations has continued to cast doubt on whether eVTOL pioneers can meet their aggressive—some might say fanciful—targets for approval. In any case, SMG also expects 2024 to see the world’s first certified vertiport, but it will be cleared only for cargo flights.
Perhaps the most intriguing prediction is that a major legacy aerospace group will acquire one of the world’s top 10 eVTOL manufacturers. Boeing, Airbus, Textron, and Embraer already effectively have eVTOL divisions or offshoots, so it will be intriguing to see what, if anything, emerges from SMG’s crystal ball in this regard.