By Saleem Zaheer
Given the many investments and SPAC reverse mergers announced in just the past few months, 2021 promises to be a banner year for growth and advancements in Advanced/Urban Air Mobility (AAM/UAM).
This is well captured in this February 25, 2021 article in Forbes by Dean Donovan.
This is an excerpt from Dean’s summation of medium-term trends:
- Private aviation will encroach on commercial travel for ultra-premium passengers, but will in turn feel pressure from regional air mobility services and UAM connected commercial flying.
- Look for many experiments using UAM vehicles as a premium direct service replacing cars beyond existing infrastructure. Blade offers one example of how this can work. However, UAM companies have proposed other models as well. The details of how some of these models would work and scale at affordable prices that earn a return on investment remain murky.
- Commercial airlines will use UAM vehicles to offer a premium connecting service from commercial airports to GA airports or existing heliport infrastructure. This will offer new growth opportunities for commercial carriers and UAM companies alike.
- Regional air mobility’s affordability, facilitated by hybrid-electric propulsion, could enable it to become the first mass market product in the advanced air mobility sector. When the costs of air mobility fall below the costs of automobile travel, regional air mobility services will grow rapidly at the expense of ground transportation.
At XTI, we agree with Dean’s assessment of hybrid-electric vehicles becoming the first mass market product in AAM due to their lower projected Cost Per Available Seat Mile (CASM). More passenger seats and higher speeds lead to lower CASMs for the XTI TriFan 600. And it is this lower operating cost that will allow ticket prices for customers to be comparable to airline or ground transportation for regional travel.
For example, Manhattan Heliport to Washington DC in an hour for $149, the same cost as an economy airline ticket (November 2020) while saving 2 hours and 15 minutes in travel time. Or compared to the Acela high speed train between Manhattan and Washington DC which takes three hours and costs $215 (November 2020).
The TriFan’s economics will result in profitable operations while giving customers an affordable travel option with very significant time savings. This is a winning combination for mass market penetration and a revolution in mobility.
Illustrative route network with XTI’s 8-passenger TriFan 600 using heliports and smaller airports