Aerospace & Defence

Pilots are crucial to public confidence in eVTOLs, investors believe

13th February 2024
Paige West

Global investors are optimistic about the increasing public trust in electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, particularly as the industry commits to employing qualified pilots for operations, according to new international research from New Horizon Aircraft Ltd., also known as Horizon Aircraft.

The survey, which involved investors from Japan, the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, revealed that nearly three-quarters (73%) expect public confidence in eVTOLs to rise in the next three years, with 15% foreseeing a significant boost in trust.

Only 6% of those surveyed, including private equity, venture capital, and family office investors, anticipate a decline in public confidence as the debut of the first eVTOL services approaches. About 22% foresee no change in public sentiment or did not provide a viewpoint.

Horizon's study, conducted with senior executives at top investment firms managing over $1.787 trillion in assets, highlighted the critical role of using qualified pilots in enhancing public support for eVTOL services.

Over three-quarters (76%) pointed to pilot use as essential for boosting public confidence, while 68% emphasised the importance of successful passenger and drone service trials. Approximately 65% highlighted the positive impact of news about sector successes, and 56% called for evidence of regulatory advancements, with 36% looking for endorsements from major companies and investors.

Horizon is developing the Cavorite X7, a hybrid electric eVTOL with a seven-seat capacity, including a pilot and six passengers, catering to the medevac, business aviation, and commercial cargo sectors' demands.

Brandon Robinson, CEO of Horizon Aircraft, said: “Potential customers and passengers need to be confident that eVTOLs will be safe and will have a business use in order for investors to support the sector and the study shows there is growing confidence.

“The key factor as far as investors are concerned in driving public confidence is that eVTOLs will have qualified pilots flying their aircraft, and any company looking for investment needs to take that into account.”

The Cavorite X7 is projected to have a gross weight of 5,500lbs and a useful load of 1,500lbs, with a top speed of 250mph and a range exceeding 500 miles with fuel reserves. Horizon believes the aircraft, if certified for commercial use, could excel in various missions, including medevac, supply delivery, disaster relief, and military operations, as well as Regional Air Mobility for distances between 50 to 500 miles.

Distinguishing itself with a hybrid electric powertrain, the Cavorite X7 is designed to recharge its batteries mid-flight in traditional aircraft mode and achieve a full recharge of its battery array in less than 30 minutes post-flight.

Horizon's approach aims to enable the Cavorite X7 to operate in a low-drag configuration similar to traditional aircraft for 98% of its mission, enhancing safety and ease of certification compared to more radical eVTOL designs. The aircraft's hybrid system offers in-flight and post-flight battery recharging and significant redundancy. Horizon is advancing its development with ongoing testing of a 50%-scale model to mitigate technical risks as it progresses towards a full-scale aircraft.

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