A consortium led by Eve Air Mobility has joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s regulatory sandbox to begin developing a concept of operations for future air taxi services.
Eve, which recently spun off from EmbraerX to continue developing its eVTOL aircraft and air traffic management services, will work with its UK Air Mobility consortium partners to explore airspace design, regulatory challenges and infrastructure requirements relevant to the introduction of low-altitude eVTOL flights in and out of London.
Consortium partners include the UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS), infrastructure operator Skyports, UK-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace, Germany’s Volocopter, London’s Heathrow (LHR) and London City Airport (LCY), and Embraer’s air traffic management subsidiary Atech.
Beginning with simulated flights from London City Airport to Heathrow, the consortium will generate data to inform the UK’s civil aviation authority on potential separation standards, the efficacy of dedicated flight corridors, design considerations for airspace solutions, and expected airspace capacity.
“The results will provide the CAA with a tested framework for harmonizing the low-level airspace and contribute to an integrated strategy for accommodating low-level airspace stakeholders,” the consortium’s website states. “The CAA will then be able to use this CONOPS to help shape future regulations for integrating UAM operations in locations across the UK.”
The consortium highlights sustainability, improved mobility in congested cities like London, and economic opportunities as benefits of building out electric air taxi services, including references to both urban and regional applications of the technology.
Eve’s lift-plus-cruise aircraft was described to eVTOL.com by CEO André Stein as emphasizing passenger accessibility and a high degree of reliability in design, avoiding tilting mechanisms to find a “sweet spot” between aircraft capability and simplicity. A video released by Eve on Jan. 6 appears to show an unmanned prototype with eight propellers spread across a main wing and rear stabilizer, without two rear ducted propellers shown in previous mockups, in the early stages of flight testing.
“This unprecedented consortium, consisting of some of aviation’s foremost thought leaders, will work towards preparing London, and eventully the UK, to be a viable and successful market for passenger and cargo flights using eVTOLs,” said David Rottblatt, vice president of business development at Eve and leader of the company’s urban air traffic management program.