If it seems that a new eVTOL concept is revealed every few days, that’s not far off. According to the Vertical Flight Society (VFS), there are now more than 200 models in its World eVTOL Aircraft Directory, which launched in 2017 with fewer than a dozen.
The comprehensive compendium of electric and hybrid electric VTOL designs recorded its 50th eVTOL aircraft in January 2018, its 100th in July 2018, and its 150th in January 2019 — reflecting the sector’s explosive growth.
According to VFS executive director Mike Hirschberg, “We recognized in 2013 that there was a rapid convergence of technologies — including advances in electric motors, batteries, power management systems, fly-by-wire flight controls, and lightweight composite structures — that would enable what we call the Electric VTOL Revolution.”
As he explained, “The advent of distributed electric propulsion [DEP] has led to radical new eVTOL aircraft configurations that don’t resemble traditional fixed-wing aircraft or rotorcraft. DEP provides developers with exciting new opportunities to radically reduce the operating cost, noise, and complexity of vertical flight.”
VFS held the world’s first eVTOL technical meeting in 2014 and will convene its seventh annual Electric VTOL Symposium in San Jose, California, in January. This week from Sept. 10 to 12 in Washington, D.C., it is hosting the first of a new series of eVTOL workshops on the “defining challenges” of urban air mobility — part of the society’s commitment to increasing understanding and collaboration in this rapidly advancing field.
“The Vertical Flight Society’s role is to help these companies, engineers, inventors, and government agencies to overcome the many barriers to commercial success, which include technology, regulations, infrastructure, air traffic management, and system safety,” stated VFS director of strategic development Jim Sherman, who elaborated on these goals in a recent interview with eVTOL.com.
The D.C. event feature talks by 50 eVTOL leaders, including Mel Johnson of the Federal Aviation Administration; Joe Van Valen and Bert Williams from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy; Starr Ginn of NASA; Uber Elevate’s Mark Moore; and others. Registration is open throughout the event at www.vtol.org/dc.