The long-term viability of the eVTOL market will depend on the ability to adapt and certify the segment’s vehicles for autonomous flight, Embraer executives said last week during media briefings in Brazil. Discussing prospects for the eVTOL under development by Eve Urban Air Mobility, which is majority-owned by the aircraft manufacturer, Embraer engineering head Luis Carlos Affonso explaioned that a key benefit of advanced air mobility lies with the immunity from pilot shortages full flight autonomy would allow.
Eve aims to start deliveries of its four-passenger eVTOL in 2026, and already has collected more than 1,800 provisional commitments from operators. Initially, the planned air taxi services will operate with a pilot on board.
“This is something that could dramatically change the economics and allow the industry to grow because today there is a shortage of pilots,” he explained. “If you think of eVTOL today, it’s one pilot for four passengers…Eve will only fulfill the vision of scaling if it is autonomous.”
Eve co-CEO Andre Stein didn’t disagree that, in the long-term, large-scale adoption of eVTOL applications eventually will require flight autonomy. However, he also acknowledged it will take some time for regulators and the public to accept the concept.
“There is enough market to start,” said Stein. But to reach 50,000 aircraft by 2035, he noted, "You’re going to need [autonomous operation]. But to start you don’t.”
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