What role can private aviation play in the electric revolution?


Alfredo Lisdero, Welojets cofounder, discusses why the entire aviation industry should start planning how it can leverage the electrification of aviation.

The private aviation sector is very active and dynamic. It allows passengers and companies reach distant or not commercially served airports, while offering on demand and last-minute travel solutions that serve missions that otherwise would not be possible.

In terms of tangible facts and figures, according to the EBAA, the European business aviation industry employs almost 400,000 people and contributes close to €90 billion to the European GDP annually. While the NBAA in the USA states that the industry contributes with more than US$128 billion to the U.S. GDP, as well as supporting more than 1 million jobs.

Nevertheless, the private aviation sector is facing a challenge to reduce emissions. According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) aviation’s total contribution only represent roughly 2.1% of the total global carbon emissions, while private aviation represents a minor percentage of that sum. However, the industry is working to reduce its environmental impact.

According to EBAA, over the last 15 years, emissions per hour, per flight, per business aircraft have decreased by 36%. And this is only the beginning.

Let’s now analyze what is waiting ahead in terms on how we fly. Aviation is on the brink of a new revolution. In the next decade we will see incredible changes on the way we fly. Once again, the passion for flying will surprise us all and disrupt the way we travel while making aviation carbon neutral.

The aviation industry is betting big on sustainability through electric aviation. Most recently, United Airlines committed to a US$ 15 million investment in Eve Air Mobility, an electric aviation startup, while one of the largest global private jet operators, NetJets, plans to add 150 electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Lilium Jet.

Verdego, a Daytona Technologies based company developing a hybrid propulsion power train, has recently closed a Series A round led by Raytheon and Electra Aero, an eSTOL OEM has received an investment by Lockheed Martin.

Hybrid or electric?

While this transition will take some time, the words of Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lilium, should encourage the entire private air industry: “private and business aviation will be early adopters of the eVTOL revolution.” This speaks volumes of the leading role that this segment in aviation can play in the electric urban air mobility ecosystem.

It is no overstatement to say that private aviation, where Welojets navigates, is closest to playing a tangible role around aviation’s electric movement. The way it’s built, its main traits, and the consumer expectations behind this market, makes it the perfect candidate to leverage the electric revolution.

There is a wide consent that flexibility and access to remote locations is arguably the main qualities that private aviation provides. The urban and regional air mobility ecosystem, similarly, is expected to deliver an agile and flexible means of transportation in urban areas, from city centers to private terminals or for the final leg of a trip, for instance, which could serve as a flawless connector for private jet flights.

Fully electric options could be a solution for urban air mobility, while hybrid electric aircraft are expected to serve as a short to mid distance transportation option, with SAFS fuel-powered aircraft operating longer haul flights.

Regarding the type of aircraft, OEMs are working on diverse models to compete in the urban and regional segment. eVTOL and Electric Short Take-Off and Landing (eSTOL) are the two types of aircraft in the production line today. eVTOLs have the capacity to take off and land vertically like a conventional helicopter, what makes them an ideal option for operating in tight spaces.

The eSTOLs, on the other hand, need a bit more space (a football pitch length) to operate and do so by taking off and landing like a conventional airplane. Greener eSTOLs will not only substitute the use of car for regional mobility but also disrupt cargo transportation and reduce total road emissions.

Whereas in the long run this revolution is about reducing the industry’s carbon footprint while also improving its overall efficiency, today, the partnership between private aviation players and electric aircraft actors is all about the passenger’s experience. Saving time is at the core of private aviation’s mission and the possibility to avoid ground transportation at any stage of the process is a huge added value for the industry and its clients.

In essence, the options to propel the electrification of aviation are gaining traction through solid investments and increasing public interest which, in contrast, helps establish solid outcomes in terms of design and overall manufacture.

At Welojets we embrace the air mobility revolution that is on the way and contribute with our group investments in key companies that will definitively change the way we fly. The human drive and spirit to go higher, further, and now greener will surprise us once more.

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