evtolinsights.com last interviewed Sergio Cecutta, the founder of SMG Consulting pioneering ‘AAM Reality Index’ exactly a year ago. This regularly updated index mirrors the eVTOL industry’s development and progress, toward the ultimate goal of producing certified aircraft at scale.
Founded in December 2020, the initial chart of 14 OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) now stands at 25, an addition of 11 companies in just 18 months. The number continues to grow at a rapid rate.
This month Cecutta has added vertiport infrastructure companies to his index. Under the heading AIR Index (AAM Infrastructure Readiness), initially, five have been included: Ferrovial, Urban Blue, Urban-Air Port, Skyports, Skyportz.
Below is a link to FAQs about the AIR Index.
Cecutta discusses this latest addition.
Chris Stonor Asks The Questions
Why aren’t Urban-Air Port (UAP) and Skyports at the top of the chart when they’re the most active companies, at present?
Both are working on many great projects and both have experienced teams. However, the index looks at the readiness of all the infrastructure companies to roll out commercial vertiport networks across the globe. This includes past experience of building and/or managing airports. Capital is also crucial to the development of large networks.
Do you see other vertiport manufacturers joining the Index soon?
We are currently working to include many more companies in the next release. We have been positively surprised by how many companies have reached out to us to share information about their work on AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) infrastructure.
There are none mentioned so far covering China, where EHang will be one of the first eVTOL companies to gain full certification.
In China, we believe that vertiports and networks in the country will be home built. We await information.
What of South America where eVTOL companies like Eve are to become very active. Who will be building the infrastructure there?
Recently both Eve and Vertical have announced separate partnerships with Corporación América Airports whom we see as an important player in South America and worldwide.
I have been following the Index since it first appeared and always wondered why you don’t include potential eVTOL sales, especially when some are confirmed, to your equation for ranking companies.
As for orders, there are three main reasons why we have not included them (although we do track them separately).
Most of the order book is not firm (95+ percent). Even for firm orders, they can get cancelled and several companies in the past with large backlogs have failed. It is not possible to compare companies that sell vehicles to third parties with companies that plan to operate them.
Back to UAP who say they’ll be constructing 200 vertiports around the world over the next coming years. Once again, does that not have an influence on the Index?
We do not consider orders in our AAM Reality Index, so we are not considering commitments in the AIR Index. What is very important for us is the actual deployment of vertiport networks across the world.
Are you considering the conversion of heliports or the tops of multi-storey car parks into vertiports? Will these have an influence on the Index? Do you feel there will be sufficient U.S vertiports constructed by 2024 when Joby Aviation is probably the first to gain full certification?
The Index tracks all vertiports, whether they are a conversion of existing facilities or new builds. We believe that Joby will start with a network of four to five in the chosen launch city.
(Pic: METI/Ken Okuyama Design Image)
How significant will the Osaka Expo 2025 in Japan have on eVTOL and drone infrastructure?
We believe this Expo will be a catalyst for AAM deployment in Japan just as the Olympics in 2024 will be for Paris and Europe.
How many vertiports do you see being constructed between now and 2025?
Given many companies are working on building vertiports, I would expect the number to be in the double digits.
How popular has your AAM Reality Index become since you started? What influence does it have over the eVTOL industry?
We are very pleased with the reception of the Index by the industry. It has become a point of entry to understand the OEM side of the AAM industry and a yardstick to measure progress toward the ultimate goal of producing certified aircraft at scale.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would like to conclude by saying that AAM has been a breath of fresh air for the entire aerospace industry, bringing renewed interest, capital and talent. This ecosystem is very complex and is made of several elements, all needed at once to assure a successful launch and eventual scaling of services. This is the reason why we introduced the AIR Index, to emphasise the importance of infrastructure.
For more information
June 2022 Index