We can consider Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as a segment with its own characteristics, within the broad set that comprises the activity of air transport.

This new form of mobility is in full swing and soon we will talk about it in the present tense and we will use it to improve our way of moving and moving things.

The aircraft developments to serve the AAM are, at the moment, a set of ideas, concepts, prototypes and projects, which exceeds any prediction that we could make, both for the number of initiatives and for the imagination of the systems and solutions. that are being shuffled

According to the Vertical Flight Society there are a total of 833 projects in the world for different solutions and with different forms of propulsion and thrust. If we eliminate those projects that only provide solutions to aircraft for private or private use, there are 722 projects in the world, some of them already abandoned for some reason, from lack of financing to technological difficulties that make it unfeasible to enter the production phase and for further commercial use.

The first appreciation is that there is no market, no matter how much the demand develops, for both design and project. One only has to compare these numbers with what is being produced in manned aviation, with a very mature and fully expanded market throughout the world. If we analyze each project that is underway one by one, we can see that many merely symbolic proposals are hidden in these huge figures with little chance of success.

Grouped the different designs by their propulsion and thrust systems, the largest group is made up of those known as Vectored Thrust, those eVTOLs that use any of their propellants for both lift and cruising displacement, of which there are 279 projects. Of these currently in the prototype and final testing phase there are only 13 and in conceptual design, phase prior to the creation of the prototype, there are currently 43 cases. It is clear that we will still have to wait for drops in these two groups and that in the end we do not expect more than a dozen cases to enter production and be sold on the market.

The second largest group is the so-called Wingless or Multicopter, those that do not have a specific propellant for the cruise and use only thrust for lift and the same for horizontal displacement, which at the moment there are 242 projects of which there are already 21 cases that are in the prototype phase or already in production and 33 in the conceptual design phase.

Lastly, we have the so-called Lift & Cruise group, in which the system used for cruise thrust and that used for vertical movement are completely independent, of which there are currently 146 projects presented, of which 14 are in progress. the prototype realization phase and 15 in the conceptual design.

As we mentioned, most of these projects will never become a commercial reality and there are various reasons that are the cause of this situation.

I am sure that most of the projects that we mentioned before were born proposing a new technological idea with the conviction that it was possible to complete it as a viable project from a technical, operational and, of course, economic point of view. Where are the most common errors that make apparently good ideas not end up being a reality? To analyze this situation, we are going to focus only on those projects that have reached some level of development and that have passed the initial stages, and we rule out those that we could include in the group of curious occurrences.

The development of an aircraft comprises a set of activities that must all meet the objective, individually, to be viable and to complicate a little more and perhaps discourage an investor a little, they are all related. We can group this set of activities into, simplifying, technology, performance, certification and commercialization. Each of these groups, in turn, contain a large number of activities and as a whole they form part of the total project. And to complicate and add an additional element, there are real examples in the world of aviation of totally successful projects from the analysis of these groups of activities that have been a commercial failure, since it must be added that competition and the market can also condition the success or failure of a great project.

Although the causes can be diverse, there is a common factor in many of the projects that fail and that in most cases is avoidable: not having integrated from the beginning the implications and effects of the groups that make up the project to consider it as a unified system, that is the technology the performances the certification and the commercialization. Advancing in each of them without taking into account the effects on the others, gives rise to rethinking, modifications, changes, etc., which in the end delay the project and above all increase costs, causing the final failure. Having a multidisciplinary team, from the beginning of the project, that interacts in each and every one of the different areas that make up the global system, is a guarantee of success and is also the surest way to convince investors that their investment it will be solidly supported by a company that has foreseen that the difficulties of this business venture, as complicated as the launch of a new aircraft, will be overcome.

Pablo Morera



Share This