Maker of both hybrid and entirely electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) airplanes, Horizon Aircraft has revealed research on what backers of new craft development expect in the early phases of operation, which ranks much-anticipated air taxi services surprisingly low on that list.
Toronto area-based Horizon solicited responses from the kind of private equity and venture capital executives who are funding next-generation aircraft development about when and how they expect eVTOL and other advanced air mobility vehicles to come into operation. Only 14% of those said air taxi passenger transport would be a top early application.
Those views contrast communications from companies working toward craft certification and launch – and much media coverage of them – which tends to focus on looming passenger services for relatively short flights above other applications.
Instead, Horizon found 27% of financial sector investors and observers believe search and rescue missions will be the main purpose for early eVTOL operation, followed by remote supply objectives (20%), organ transport (15%), and then air taxis. Cargo hauling and disaster relief both followed at 8%, rounded out by military missions (4%) and aerial ambulance services (3%).
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Even if most backers and financial sector watchers of evolving eVTOL activities don’t foresee air taxi operation dominating early on in the way plane developers tend to, there is general agreement aon when the first of those aircraft are likely to begin operating.
The most-cited year was 2025 with 28%, in line with current rollout plans by companies like Joby and Archer. More optimistic respondents expect those craft to start flying in 2024 (27%), with 14% believing that will happen this year. Numbers then dwindle between 2026 (12%) and sometime after 2027 (10%).
Answers to which markets they believe will dominate eVTOL activity in 2030 did seem to reflect expectations of high-volume air taxi operations dominating the sector by that time.
Responses predicting which countries would have the largest and most advanced next generation aircraft operations at the start of the next decade included the US 59% of the time, Canada 52%, the UK 41%, France 37%, and China 35% most frequently.
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Given the growing urgency for sustainable alternatives to replace carbon emitting traditional aircraft and ground transport vehicles, meanwhile, 93% of respondents said they expect growing demand for such craft to accelerate both regulatory work to enable their operation, and increased financing to fuel their development and production.
“Our research highlights the huge variety of ways in which eVTOLs can be used – from search and rescue to remote supply, passenger transportation, and military missions,” said Horizon Aircraft CEO Brandon Robinson. “This is one of the key reasons why the sector is attracting so much investment, and it will be those aircraft that can be used for multiple purposes that will attract much of this financing.”