On the 12th and 13th October 2021, we attended the first AIRTAXI World Congress, which was entirely dedicated to air taxis and Urban Air Mobility (UAM)! This included a showcase of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, as well as the implications and challenges that are faced by this emerging industry.
Alongside the informative and exciting presentations and exhibition, the event provided attendees with a great networking opportunity. We were extremely pleased to meet and reunite with incredible people from the UAM ecosystem, including representatives from EHang, Airspeeder, Groupe ADP, eVTOL Insights, Swanson Aviation, Vertical Aerospace, and many more!
To read about Day 1 of the event, have a look at our article, ‘AIRTAXI World Congress 2021 — DAY 1’.
Following on from Day 1, the conference continued exploring the theme of public acceptance, as well as UAM’s environmental impact. Day 2 also showcased a presentation from What3Words and an ‘Ask Anything’ panel discussion.
Throughout the presentations on ‘How do we design cities?’, Clem Newton-Brown (Skyportz), Darrell Swanson (Swanson Aviation), and Lizann Tjon (City of Amsterdam) highlighted how UAM could be integrated into cities and what role public engagement plays in its success.
“[Public] engagement has to be beyond press releases.” — Clem Newton-Brown, CEO of Skyportz
“Interfacing with local authorities is one of the most important things.” — Darrell Swanson, Swanson Aviation
Joyce Abou Moussa from Groupe ADP emphasised that the 2024 Paris Olympics will be a great opportunity to propel UAM and improve public acceptance. It was also announced that Australian Skyportz will be servicing the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.
Nikhil Sachdeva from Roland Berger presented on how the UAM ecosystem would affect local environments. Whilst UAM has the potential to reduce road congestion, improving local air quality at ground level, there are concerns regarding noise and visual pollution, as well as the impact on bird and animal habitats. Through Flight Crowd’s interaction with young people and outreach experience, it is clear that the young community is very passionate about UAM's impact on natural habitats.
A significant amount of discussion was dedicated to bird strikes, which is known to be a huge challenge for general aviation, potentially presenting a high risk to passenger safety. According to Phil Mountain (Birdstrike Management UK), there are approximately 6 bird strikes a day in the UK, with only 4% of these causing damage. How is UAM preparing to address this issue?
“You have got to make sure that you are learning the lessons from existing aviation” — Phil Mountain, Birdstrike Management UK
Furthermore, due to the low cruise altitudes of UAM vehicles, this issue is a huge concern throughout the entire journey, unlike traditional aviation where the risk of bird strike only takes place during take-off and landing. It is clear that to succeed, it’s crucial for the UAM industry to overcome this challenge.
Interview — Ask Anything
Day 2 of the congress also featured a discussion panel with Andreas Perotti (EHang), Kolin Schnuk (Lufthansa Hub), Mark Blackwell (SkyDrive), and Gokhan Celik (ATech SYN), where the audience were able to ask panellists any UAM-related questions.
“[UAM is] making the functional principle of a helicopter affordable and sustainable.” — Andreas Perotti, Chief Marketing Officer at EHang, Europe
During the discussions, the importance of considering the disabled community at the early stages of UAM development was highlighted. Integrating accessibility into technologies as early as possible would enable inclusivity in the most optimum and cost-effective way.
“If we wait until we take [UAM] to market, then we may be missing lots of [accessibility] requirements” — Mark Blackwell, R&D Strategy Manager at SkyDrive
The event also showcased an insightful presentation from Phoebe Parry-Crooke from What3Words — a free, user-friendly platform to find and share exact locations. The concept’s simplicity and human-centered focus enables the platform to be easily accessible.
“How can this be used to navigate the skies?”— Joyce Abou Moussa, Groupe ADP
What3Words has the potential to play a significant role in UAM, ensuring the user interface is easily accessible and has accurate navigation. Although the platform divides Earth’s surface into 2D squares, it may be effectively used in 3D applications in the future.
Goodbye & See You Soon!
Overall, we really enjoyed this event and found it very insightful — it was amazing to see such a great turnaround and a truly global presence of the speakers despite the challenges of the current climate.
A huge thank you to the team for inviting Flight Crowd and organising this event! If you would like to get involved in this event in the future, have a look at the next AIRTAXI World Congress, which will take place between 15th and 17th June 2022 at LN Garden Guangzhou, China. You can find more details here: https://www.airtaxiworldcongress.com/
All photos courtesy of the AIRTAXI World Congress