The barriers preventing eVTOLs from flying — and how to overcome them

VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft are coming but not anytime soon. Aircraft progress ranges from conceptual designs to complete prototypes and early test flights.

But we’re a while off from commercial aviation. Further, a focus on the aircraft and the required regulations has overlooked the management of their journeys.

I recently spoke with Corvin Huber, CEO, and CTO of Skyroads, to find out more, and it left me convinced that commercial electric VTOLs aren’t hitting the skies anytime soon. 

Building digital roads in the sky means preparing on the ground

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Skyroads is developing an automated airspace management and vehicle guidance system that will enable autonomous passenger and cargo vehicles to take off, fly, and land.

Air traffic management starts the moment the flight plan is activated, the doors are closed, and the vehicle is ready to go. But the real work starts even earlier. 

At full capacity, eVTOLs are small aircraft designed for speedy refueling/recharging, boarding, and departure in rapid succession.

Huber explains, “In a huge airport, an airplane can wait on the tarmac, or in front of the gate. But in urban air mobility, vertiports (take-off and landing facilities) are designed to be urban compatible. They’re going to be small. There won’t be a square kilometer to park a vehicle on the right.” 

He explained that his company had spoken to “just about every relevant eVTOL manufacturer in the world right now.” And what concerns them is not flying, but, “how do we get aircraft into vertiports, on a very tight schedule, with exacting frequency and navigation?”