Electric-powered air taxis are edging closer to becoming a reality as battery technology continues to improve. This electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which can operate like helicopters close to the ground and fly like small planes, could potentially ease city traffic congestion by 2025.
However, the profitability of producing these air taxis remains in question.
According to ABC News, one company betting on the success of eVTOLs is Joby Aviation Inc., founded by JoeBen Bevirt. Joby Aviation recently delivered its first eVTOL to the Air Force and aims to enter commercial air taxi service by 2025.
Bevert, whose dream has been to find a better way for people to get from A to B, became convinced that electric propulsion would make these aircraft sufficiently quiet. But the road to this achievement has not been a smooth sail, Bervert said that “at that point, batteries did not have the specific energy we needed. I came back to it 15 years ago and founded Joby Aviation once batteries had matured,”
ABC News reports that despite losing over $400 million in 2021-2022, Bevirt remains confident in the prospects of the industry. The largest shareholder of Joby Aviation is Toyota, with an 11% stake.
Bevirt spoke to The Associated Press about his vision for eVTOLs and their challenges. He expressed his long-held dream of creating a better mode of transportation and explained how electric propulsion became the key to achieving it. Bevirt highlighted the importance of safety, noise reduction, and cost-effectiveness in making eVTOLs a viable daily transportation option.
“I would like to see this be a mode of transportation that’s accessible for people to use for a large percentage of the trips that they take. The progression from something that you are using occasionally, like you would use a taxi to something that is more and more regular,” Bervirt said.
“We will see how long that takes. I actually think it’s better to have a shared model where you are able to increase utilization. And you don’t have a capital asset that’s tied up for just a single user,” he said.
The concept of air taxis mirrors traditional ride-hailing services like taxis or Uber, with the focus on providing passengers with quick and convenient transportation. Bevirt emphasized the need for eVTOLs to be quiet enough to blend in with background noise, ensuring they can operate in various locations without causing disturbances.
The economic viability of eVTOLs heavily depends on utilization. The more seats sold and the more hours the aircraft operates, the lower the cost per passenger. To achieve this, Bevirt stressed the importance of creating compelling takeoff and landing locations and an overall positive user experience.
The success of eVTOLs also hinges on factors such as pilot training, infrastructure development, and operational efficiency. A task Nigeria would need to rise up to in the coming future of this reality.
Joby Aviation has been actively working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to obtain certification for its aircraft. Bevirt praised the FAA’s progress in approving the company’s certification plans, enabling further advancements in preparation for commercial service. However, significant challenges are still ahead, including extensive testing and evaluation of every component and system.
Joby Aviation remains committed to achieving commercial service by 2025 despite these hurdles. Bevirt expressed confidence in the design of their aircraft but refrained from commenting on an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Additionally, Bevirt highlighted the significance of Ohio, particularly Dayton, as a hub for aviation with a rich heritage in aircraft manufacturing.
Finally, Bevirt emphasized his passion for sustainable aviation and electric propulsion’s potential for improving the industry’s environmental impact. With ongoing advancements in battery technology and the determination of companies like Joby Aviation, the future of electric-powered air taxis is becoming increasingly promising.