The Paris 2023 air show, with its plethora of advanced air mobility (AAM) order and partnership announcements, have given a confusing picture of how the industry will evolve.
Unlike the legacy aviation sector, where aircraft operators and manufacturers, airports and air navigation services providers (ANSPs) keep, generally, to their own silos, the AAM market has seen exclusive tie-ups between suppliers of aircraft and airport/UTM services in a way which leaves an unclear picture about whether infrastructure will be made available on an industry-wide or exclusive basis.
So, for example, when electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacture PLANA announced its link with vertiport manufacturer Bluenest (by Globalvia), the partnership, they say, “aims to accelerate the development and commercialisation of AAM and vertiport services and infrastructure, creating a global AAM ecosystem.”
Hanwha Systems – another eVTOL manufacturer and UTM systems provider - Korea Airports Corporation and Urban-Air Port also announced a tie-up in Paris “to deploy an extensive range of technology-driven innovations to empower ultra-efficient, high-throughput vertiport infrastructure solutions.
These bespoke eco-system are springing up around the world – possibly acting as a catalyst to first generation services but ensuring that scaling-up more widespread AAM operations with other stakeholders.
Another major announcement at Paris saw Lilium and UrbanV collaborating on vertiport developments in Italy, the French Riviera and beyond. The companies’ partnership “will enable eVTOL networks for Lilium aircraft and customers with an initial focus on Italy and the French Riviera, where UrbanV says it will launch its operations, with potential for further markets in the future…. Lilium says that it will benefit from UrbanV’s strong foothold and key airport access in Rome, Venice, Bologna, Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, and surrounding areas.”
Many eVTOL and vertiport developers also have their own UTM businesses – which makes the partnership picture even more confusing.
During the Paris Air Show, Eve Air Mobility announced the extension of its partnership with Widerøe Zero. The agreement involves up to 50 eVTOLs, a service and operation solutions package, as well as the implementation of Eve’s Urban Air Traffic Management (Urban ATM) software solution.
The Paris Air Show has clearly marked the start of the industrialisation phase of the AAM market but also added some complexities on how services will be provided into the future.
Philip Butterworth-Hayes reporting from Paris Air Show 23.
Picture: Eve Air Mobility announced the extension of its partnership with Widerøe Zero. Image: Eve Air Mobility