By Treena Hein

Treena Hein is an award-winning technology, science, and business writer based in Ontario, Canada. She has almost two decades’ experience in outstanding content creation, and prefers to write about emerging technologies, how technologies and industries have evolved, and the intersection of technology with public perceptions, regulatory issues, and other factors.

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A look at Eve’s eVTOL aircraft as it targets type certification in late 2025

It was rather big news in late 2021 when Eve Urban Air Mobility announced an impending planned merger with Zanite Acquisition Corp. for the second quarter of this year. The company’s expected cash proceeds of $512 million from the transaction will support Eve’s operations and growth as the company works toward planned commercial launch of its aircraft in early 2026.

Bristow Eve eVTOL
Eve’s eVTOL aircraft is targeting a range of up to 60 miles (96 kilometers) with appropriate reserves for eVTOL operations, and a cruising speed of up to 125 miles per hour (201 kilometers per hour). Bristow / Eve Image

Eve has already formed relationships with dozens of companies and other entities in the urban air mobility (UAM) space, including fleet operators, ride-sharing partners, vertiport developers, and tech firms. Eve has also secured conditional orders from 17 customers so far — for 1,735 vehicles valued at approximately US$5 billion.

However, details on the aircraft itself have been scant. With four years to go until commercial launch, eVTOL.com checked in with Eve for as close a look as permissible at its first aircraft, starting with the design approach.

“When we set out to design our vehicle, we started by looking at the requirements needed to address the sweet spot of the market — true urban mobility within cities and metro regions,” said David Rottblatt, Eve’s vice president of business development. “Our targeted flight range will address 99% of intra-metro travel, based on a study we conducted with MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. The journey has been about bringing the right product to market, with design choices being driven by a singular focus on executing our mission with the greatest efficiency and best-in-class operational costs.”

Rottblatt reminds us that in aviation design, there is no free lunch. “We certainly could have designed for greater range or speed, but that added performance would come at a price in terms of complexity, energy consumption, vehicle weight, and operational cost,” he noted. “Our design requires no breakthroughs in battery chemistry, energy density, or other technologies. We’re combining the best of proven technologies perfected by Embraer over many years, along with innovations developed by Eve based on currently-available components.”

Simple design

Rottblatt said that as you look across the competitive UAM landscape, configurations such as the tilt-rotor design allow for greater speed and range but introduce complexities that make the vehicle more challenging to certify and operate reliably, as well as increasing the cost of operation. Others, like the multi-rotor designs, are the simplest to certify, but with an extremely-reduced payload and range.

Eve chose to go the cost-effective route of a simple fixed pitch rotor design and fixed wings with virtually no moving parts, a focus which Rottblatt and his team believe is absolutely critical to the future of UAM.

“If the industry is going to deliver on our commitment to make UAM accessible and affordable, we must design and engineer for that,” he said. “We expect that our design approach will offer a more accessible per ride price point that’s affordable to a larger percentage of the population. With our design, we also minimize maintenance and operational costs and should have a more straightforward certification path.”

The Eve design was also born out of combining proven technology from Embraer’s large stores of intellectual property with new innovations developed by Eve. For example, Eve’s vehicle features a five-generation fly-by-wire system developed by Embraer and proven on four previously-certified aircraft families. An example of brand-new innovation is the operational interface being designed from scratch by Eve. It will simplify piloting tasks, increase safety, and reduce pilot training time compared to helicopters.

Eve Kenya Fahari eVTOL
In Africa, Eve has signed an agreement with Kenya Airways to develop UAM models through the latter’s subsidiary, Fahari Aviation. Eve Image

Targeted specs, test flights, and more

Eve’s first-generation eVTOL will hold a pilot and up to four passengers. However, the design will also be “autonomous ready” for when either remotely piloting or autonomous operation is legal — making room for up to six passengers. Its targeted range will be up to 60 miles (96 kilometers) with appropriate reserves for eVTOL operations, and the cruising speed will be up to 125 miles per hour (201 kilometers per hour). The company said test flights have been running for the last 18 months with sub-scale models to validate the design.

Rottblatt said Eve is expecting type certification by the end of 2025. “Embraer has developed and certified more aircraft in the last two decades than any other OEM [original equipment manufacturer], and with that heritage and experience, we have confidence in achieving our certification and commercialization timelines,” Rottblatt said. “As Embraer has done successfully many times, we’re already engaging with ANAC [the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil] as the primary certification authority, with a bilateral agreement with the FAA [U.S. Federal Aviation Administration]. We plan to incorporate FAA and EASA [European Union Aviation Safety Agency] requirements in our certification program.”

He added, “It’s also worth noting that while the FAA will likely be processing multiple eVTOL applications and vehicle types over the next few years, we expect to benefit from undivided attention from ANAC. Our familiarity with these processes, our existing design and flight test infrastructure, and our proven practices give us a high confidence level in our timelines.”

Collaboration key

In addition to taking a different design approach and being able to leverage a parent company’s expertise, Eve also stands apart in its collaboration strategy, developing fleet operations on a partner-by-partner basis. This is very different than the plans announced by some other UAM players, Rottblatt explained, who are consuming capital by placing aircraft on their balance sheets, attempting to build a new airline from scratch, or competing with their customers.

“Instead, we are aligning ourselves with operating partners to establish joint operations in key markets, sharing both revenue and risk,” he said. “Additionally, for the past two years, we have been engaged in multiple market development projects that have allowed us to learn first-hand the requirements for bringing UAM to fruition in different countries. Through these efforts, we’ve established multiple ecosystem partnerships — utility, infrastructure, and regulatory — that we’ll rely on in preparing for initial operations.”

“This collaborative approach,” he added, “will allow us to scale very cost-effectively, rather than trying to build operations by ourselves. We’ll certainly contribute a great deal of expertise in terms of the vehicle, urban operations, and maintenance, while our partners come with the experience of how to scale route networks and serve as the ‘face’ to our passengers. What’s really exciting is that our 18 operating partners — some the biggest names in the industry — embrace this approach. They’re aligned with our vision to chart a course together.”

The road ahead

Eve believes that one of the most important elements required to scale up the UAM industry is community acceptance. The company has already started programs to build trust and knowledge about the value UAM promises to deliver for communities, but Rottblatt recognized there is still a tremendous amount of education, collaboration, and partnership that will be required to achieve acceptance.

“Additionally, it will be necessary to provide an infrastructure dedicated to the UAM market, such as the vertiports where eVTOLs will operate, the distribution of energy for charging batteries and other associated services,” he said. “In this sense, Eve will work with partners who will help make the ecosystem viable. Aside from that, all aspects of eVTOL operations will be developed in conjunction with aviation and transportation regulatory agencies worldwide. We believe Eve is very well positioned in relation to the competition, due to Embraer’s expertise in certification of safe and reliable aircraft for over 50 years.”

A summary of Eve’s recent business activities

  • Eve recently partnered with Brazil-based Avantto, which specialized in business aircraft sharing, to develop UAM across Latin America and ordered up to 100 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft.
  • Also in Brazil, Eve is leading an effort to develop a concept of operations for UAM in Rio de Janeiro. The initiative includes Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), as well as a number of companies in collaboration with Eve: Helisul, Skyports, Flapper, and EDP.
  • Eve also has conditional orders from Australia-based offshore helicopter operator Bristow Group, AzorraRepublic Airways, Skywest, Halo, and Falko Regional Aircraft, among others.
  • Eve is collaborating with Paris-based helicopter booking platform Helipass to deploy eVTOL aircraft across France and elsewhere in Europe as air taxis.
  • In Africa, Eve has signed an agreement with Kenya Airways to develop UAM models through the latter’s subsidiary, Fahari Aviation.
  • Eve has also partnered with the flight booking service Ascent to introduce Eve’s future eVTOL air taxis into Asia-Pacific markets.

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2 Comments

  1. The configuration is ‘messy’ and prone to flutter as well as assymetrics in pitch and roll if one or more props are inoperative . losing one ducted propeller will create high yaw with very little vertical tail to counter it (twin power failure case ) birdstrike or flockstrike could be catastrophic . needs total redesign . sad that a firm like Embraer with some elegant designs got it so wrong , the ‘candelabra’ approach to VTOL is inevitably a poor choice.

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