UK sets out eVTOL introduction timeline to build $57B revolutionary industry

Vertical Aerospace among a number of innovative companies being funded by the UK government
Vertical Aerospace

The UK government is planning for Britian to be at the forefront of the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) revolution that is widely seen as the biggest shakeup of the aviation industry in decades.  

To ensure that the UK is not left behind the country’s government is pressing ahead with plans to support and boost development of eVTOL aircraft and the infrastructure needed to support it.  

On March 18, 2024, the UK’s Future of Flight action plan was published, revealing how flying cars and drone technology can be harnessed to create a £45 billion ($57 billion) industry by the end of the decade. 

Under the plans the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) says that by 2026 the first piloted flying taxi flight will take place with regular services becoming a way of life by 2028.  

By 2027, the DfT says there will be regular drone deliveries across UK skies and demonstrations of autonomous eVTOL aircraft by 2030. 

The joint plan formed in collaboration between industry and government sets out the strategic direction of the sector over the coming years, “striking a balance between innovation, security, safety and cutting emissions”. 

“Cutting-edge battery technology will revolutionize transport as we know it – this plan will make sure we have the infrastructure and regulation in place to make it a reality. From flying taxis to emergency service drones, we’re making sure the UK is at the forefront of this dramatic shift in transportation – improving people’s lives and boosting the economy,” Aviation and Technology Minister, Anthony Browne, said. 

‘Breaking barriers in the sector’

Included in the Future of Flight action plan are details on allowing drones to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), how underused smaller aerodromes can form the infrastructure for vertiports, the development of standards to improve security for drones to boost public safety, and engaging communities and local authorities in the technology.  

The action plan also includes a vision for drone technology which could be used to deliver packages across the country including to remote islands and rapidly find and repair faults on the railway system. 

UK drones have already been effectively used to deliver surgical implants between sites and by the police to tackle violent crime and antisocial behavior. 

At the forefront of the plan is the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which will fundamentally set out the path for safe operation of eVTOLs and expanded drone technology.  

“Aviation stands on the cusp of its next, potentially biggest, revolution since the invention of the jet engine. Drones, eVTOL and other different vehicles have the potential to change transportation options forever. Our role in this bright future of aviation will be enabling technological advances and providing regulatory support while ensuring that all forms of new aviation technology enjoy the same high safety standards as traditional aviation,” Sophie O’Sullivan, Head of Future Safety and Innovation at the CAA, said.  

The Future of Flight action plan was published on the same day that the UK’s Aviation and Technology Minister visited one of the world’s leading eVTOL developers, Vertical Aerospace.  

The UK government hopes that by setting out a clear plan and structure for the development of eVTOL aircraft, companies like Vertical Aerospace will have the confidence to continue “breaking barriers in the sector”. 

“The UK has a long heritage in aerospace and the publication of this plan sets out how we will lead the next revolution of flight. With government and business working together, we can unleash the huge economic, environmental, and social benefits of zero emissions flight globally. Vertical is hugely proud to be at the forefront of leading this new chapter,” Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO, Vertical Aerospace, said. 

The Future of Flight action plan comes ahead of the fifth meeting of the Future of Flight Industry Group, a joint force established in February 2023.   

The UK’s Future of Flight action plan is available on the government website.

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