C O N T E N T S
The EBACE conference this year provided a number
of impressions to the visitor. In addition to the usual
sound of aviation executives talking over deals,
partnerships and regulations there was a
separate buzz in the air.
That buzz was electric aircraft and
electric vertical take-off and landing
(eVTOL) taxis. The organizers pitched
the event towards these emerging
technologies with a keynote
presentation from Florian Reuter,
chief executive of Volocopter. The
company is developing a two-seat
autonomous, 18-propeller and
nine-electric engine urban air taxi.
The aircraft is already in the air and is
poised to be the first to market.
The sentiment behind the EBACE opening
session was that business aviation is well-placed
to take advantage of new technology and ideas, including
urban air taxis. The companies that populate the sector,
from aircraft OEMs and charter operators
to FBOs and MROs are relatively small
and nimble with a more open-minded
customer base than most commercial
Aviation industry insiders mostly
agree that eVTOLs will be part of the
aviation landscape by the middle of
next decade. This new type of aircraft is
being hyped as being the next mass
mode of air transport, opening up
aviation to millions who want short
hops from one part of a gridlocked city to another. But
business aviation, which is equipped with the necessary
infrastructure, routes and customers needed for the
4 | BU S INE S S A I R P O R T INT E RNAT I ONA L J U L Y 2 0 1 9
technology, could provide the proving ground
for the technology.
Business aviation could also be the
early adopter for the first electric and
hybrid aircraft. These will be small
private, and at a push regional,
airplanes because of the restricted
capacity of batteries. Other areas
such as including blockchain,
artificial intelligence and sustainable
fuel, offer the chance for business
aviation to take a leading role.
Many believe there is a window of
opportunity now for business aviation
to improve its environmental credentials
through the more widespread adoption of
Sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF). There was a
large and loud presence of industry executives at
EBACE from the SAJF coalition promoting the biofuel.
There is a challenge here around debunking the
myth about the need for increased maintenance
and tackling the problem of SAJF’s high cost,
which is tied to increasing supply and demand.
Nevertheless, it was refreshing to hear about a
practical and immediate way of improving
the sustainability of business aviation.
Indeed, it could be said there was
almost a buzz about it.
Ben Sampson, editor
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is well-placed to take
advantage of new
technology and ideas”
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