Safety Concerns Challenge Budding $17B U.S. eVTOL Market

 - June 11, 2019, 10:59 AM

The U.S. urban eVTOL market could exceed $17 billion by 2040, but the vast majority of potential passengers still consider the vehicles unsafe, according to consulting firm Deloitte Global. This will cause the cargo segment of the market to lead any advancement in the passenger market, it added.

“Considerable strides [have been] made in the advancement of elevated mobility, particularly in the last two years,” said Robin Lineberger, Deloitte Global’s aerospace and defense leader. “While the public may focus on the viability of eVTOLs in human transportation, the movement of cargo is just as important and will likely drive early adoption of these aircraft. However, eVTOLs pose a significant risk to traditional helicopter manufacturers; if they are to successfully traverse this disruption, they should consider reexamining product mixes, business models, or even shifting their focus to evolving markets for unmanned aerial transport,” said Lineberger. 

However, Deloitte pointed out that considerable regulatory, technology, and public acceptance obstacles remain before eVTOLs can be deployed in a meaningful way. The firm recently surveyed 10,000 potential autonomous eVTOL users and found that 80 percent believe these vehicles “will not be safe” or are uncertain about their safety. The firm noted that enabling technologies still need to mature. Specifically, it said that advancements in onboard collision avoidance systems, battery management, and ground infrastructure are still needed.

Financing the latter will be particularly challenging, as Deloitte noted, “Significant capital will be required to build vertiports and other infrastructure components. To secure adequate funding, extending current public/private partnerships or establishing new models will be necessary.”