Brian Garrett-Glaser
By Brian Garrett-Glaser

As the managing editor of eVTOL.com, Brian covers the ecosystem emerging around eVTOLs and urban air mobility. Follow him on twitter @bgarrettglaser.

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Vertical Flight Society: eVTOL development activity, progress continues apace despite pandemic

Despite the enormous disruption to economic activity worldwide — and the aerospace sector in particular — caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vertical Flight Society (VFS) reported that eVTOL aircraft development efforts have continued apace, with $5 billion invested into the sector to date and one-fifth of that in the past year.

Beta Technologies' Alia. Photo by Eric Adams
Burlington, Vermont-based Beta Technologies is one of many Vertical Flight Society members that made significant progress on its eVTOL aircraft development program in 2020 despite the pandemic. Eric Adams Photo

Nearly 250 companies are now catalogued by VFS, which maintains a database of over 400 active and defunct eVTOL concepts from around the world. Two dozen companies are now known to be flying full-scale or large-scale multi-passenger eVTOL aircraft, according to the non-profit advocacy organization, which also reported its corporate membership is up 15 percent this year, totaling more than 135 companies.

“This past year saw continued growth and progress in eVTOL developments,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of VFS. “Our members in industry, academia and government agencies around the world have been tackling the toughest challenges in vertical flight, proving out the promise of this new approach to air mobility.”

Michael Dyment, managing partner of Nexa Capital Partners and newly-appointed chair of VFS’ eVTOL Hydrogen Council, told eVTOL.com he expects to see investment in the sector ramp up significantly in the coming year.

“From NEXA’s perspective, we are monitoring investment activities for the sector and believe that an additional $5 billion will be committed to [ongoing eVTOL aircraft development programs], in addition to urban air traffic management and ground infrastructure, in 2021,” Dyment said.

From Jan. 26-28, VFS will host its eighth annual Electric VTOL Symposium — virtually, due to the continuing severity of the pandemic in many regions of the world — including keynote presentations from numerous government and industry leaders. (eVTOL.com is a sponsor of the upcoming symposium.)

At the same time, VFS will host its ninth biennial Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting, with 25 technical papers on drones, autonomy and advanced air mobility to be presented.

“Despite the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, companies around the world that are seeking to succeed with eVTOL technologies turn to VFS,” said Hirschberg. “We have been leading efforts to advance electric vertical flight for the past seven years and have been working tirelessly to expand the eVTOL community.”

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