Certification and time-to-market: The eVTOL battery balancing act
Over one hundred companies are focused on the development of eVTOL vehicles and must find ways to meet the specific demands of energy storage.
To win the urban air mobility race, eVTOL companies have to strike a balance between time to market, technological advancements like battery technology and aerospace certification. As of today, no vehicle has entered the commercial application phase
There are three high-level business requirements driving the development of eVTOL energy storage:
eVTOL operations benefit from long flight times times, which in turn necessitates low weight and high energy densities
Safety, specifically fire safety, is paramount as an in-air fire is one of the worst-case scenarios in commercial aviation; however, additional safety measures typically increases system weight.
Different flight phases (vertical take-off, horizontal flight) require high peak, but comparably low average power. Even though peak power is not used for most of the flight, this requirement again increases energy storage weight.
We see that to win this race, a close alignment with certification bodies will be key. The answer to how modifications in the battery system will be categorized and need re-certification, will be critical for the development roadmap.
Creating strategic partnerships might be the decisive factor to gain a competitive advantage here. As with the automotive industry, if the battery is not treated as the key component and the vehicle is basically designed around it, the solution is likely not be optimal.