Electric-powered vertical lift was once again in focus on 5 Sep 2023, via a webinar organised by S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and supported by AAIS. The webinar was moderated by Chris Leck of RSIS, with panelists, Derek Cheng (Vertical Aerospace), Andrew Cummins (Archer Aviation), Damian Kysely (Skyports Infrastructure) and Prof James Wang (NTU).

The eVTOL frontrunners are aiming for airworthiness certifications from next year, and to launch commercial operations soon after, in conjunction with major events. There was consensus that this new mode of transport would take root from the late 2020s onwards, with new battery tech enabling greater payloads or longer ranges.

Even as new tech is introduced, this has to done with attention to the priorities of safety and reliability. Some discussion ensued regarding the different approaches to certification by FAA and EASA, and the hope for harmonisation. Standardisation is also desirable for vertiport design and battery charging, to support different aircraft types.

The gamechanger will be the introduction of autonomy and UTM. This will alleviate constraints such as the availability of pilots, and the ability to manage large numbers of air taxis operating in urban airspace.

The panel concluded that Singapore could be a lead adopter for intra and intercity flights, and benefit from attracting industry and R&D activities.