The EBACE 2023 event features an increased presence of developers of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and companies contributing technology to these programs. These exhibitors can be found on the exhibit floor, mainly in the Innovation Zone, and will discuss new propulsion systems and flight automation capability at the EBACE Sustainability Summit. There is a growing convergence between advanced air mobility (AAM) and mainstream business aviation, signalling the industry’s intent to broaden the scope of its efforts beyond increasing sustainable aviation fuels. With several eVTOL aircraft frontrunners promising commercial service in two years, the time has come to assess their credibility.
The dynamic new sector has motivated the mainstream aerospace industry’s largest players to invest in technology to support programs with new aircraft manufacturers, such as Honeywell, Safran, Rolls-Royce, Thales, Collins Aerospace, and GKN Aerospace. Airbus is developing its own eVTOL vehicle, the CityAirbus NextGen, while rival Boeing has a majority stake in Wisk Aero, and Textron Aviation established its own electric aviation business unit after acquiring Slovenia-based Pipistrel.
Lilium is a prominent exhibitor in the EBACE Innovation Zone, seeking EASA approval for its six-passenger eVTOL aircraft in 2025. Among the provisional orders taken are 20 all-electric Lilium Jets added to UK-based private aviation management and charter group Volare’s eVolare division, priced at $7 million to $10 million. NetJets agreed to add 150 Lilium Jets to its business aircraft portfolio. Luxaviation formed a division named Sigma Air Mobility to work with Lilium to develop operational approvals and manage pilots. Other provisional sales commitments for the Lilium Jet have come from Globe Air, Helity, ASL Group, AAP Aviation, iFly, and Bristow. Saudi Arabian Airlines expects to take 100 Lilium Jets.
Lilium is investing in ground infrastructure to make eVTOL vehicles’ vertical takeoff and landing capabilities meaningful. It partners with airport groups Ferrovial and Aéroports de Paris and anticipates holding entry-into-service conferences with each new operator during 2024 to implement specific operational preparations. Maintenance contracts for the aircraft and propulsion system and pilot training arrangements will be covered under power-by-the-hour contracts. Flight crews are expected to be recruited from the business and private aviation sector. Electric aircraft manufacturer VoltAero announced its intention to market fractional ownership shares in its Cassio 330 hybrid-electric aircraft at the 2022 EBACE event.