These aircraft could change how we fly

These aircraft could change how we fly

To date, no eVTOLs have been launched commercially, though several companies have announced plans to enter commercial service by 2025.

Right now, companies are testing prototypes and showing what they can do—a company called Autoflight broke the world record for the longest eVTOL flight just last month. The aircraft covered just over 155 miles (250 kilometers)—about a mile longer than the previous record, held by Joby.

But despite the impressive test flights, questions remain about how close we really are to seeing commercial eVTOLs take to the skies.

Getting regulatory approval can be a moot point. Both US and EU agencies plan to classify eVTOLs as a special class of aircraft, meaning they will be subject to a different set of requirements from conventional aircraft. There’s still some uncertainty about how that whole process will go down, especially in the US.

However, some companies charge in advance. Archer began construction in a manufacturing facility in Georgia earlier this year, which could start production as soon as 2024 and produce up to 650 aircraft per year.

What do eVTOLs mean for the climate?

Replacing fossil-fuel-powered aircraft for electric ones could be a climate win.

When it comes to more common aircraft, an electric plane charged using an average grid can reduce emissions by around 50% compared to a fossil-fuel powered airplane. If the electric planes were instead charged with all renewables, the emission reductions would jump to a maximum of 88%. Most of the remaining emissions come from battery production—since they tend to fly and charge a lot, batteries may need to be replaced every year or so.