13 July 2023
Authored by Gary Vermaak
While passenger eVTOL aircraft like the Ehang-216, Joby-S4 and Volocopter Volocity capture the imagination of the public as a realization of the Jetsons’ future, not to mention attract a lot of investor dollars, the little eVTOL, and eCTOL, aircraft, drones, are quietly disrupting several industries and the toy market with millions of commercial and consumer drones delivered in the last decade. The courier, package and postal delivery industry is an almost $400 billion-dollar global industry and is an industry where drones offer significant cost savings over road-based deliveries for small packages and items. Drones (both last and mid-mile) will complement, rather than compete with, autonomous and/or electric bikes, scooters, Vans and trucks to replace ICE vehicles. As with autonomous road vehicles, the implementation of remotely piloted and autonomous BVLOS drones will take time, but already we are seeing significant progress in the development of regulations by the CAAC, EASA and FAA to allow sUAS (under 25kg / 55lb) to operate under 400/500 ft. in urban and rural airspace, with waivers currently in place for certain operators. Larger cargo UAVs like the Ehang 216L and Volodrone will likely operate together with current helicopters in dedicated flight corridors/flight lanes, with ground-based controllers communicating with air traffic control, linking distribution centres at hub airports and in the city (mid-mile) as and when they receive type certificates from regulators to operate in certain jurisdictions. The future of eVTOLs is bright and “it’s the little things in life", that add the most value!