The series of three features discussing the hopes and aspirations surrounding air taxis flying over Paris during the 2024 Olympics, is complete. The final step is to look beyond, leading up to the Los Angeles Games four years later.
The timeline is perfect for the eVTOL industry to improve its aircraft and communication systems, design flight routes, alongside developing the general ecosystem, while extensively engaging with the public along the way, as it offers a serendipitous journey towards L.A in 2028.
2025: Osaka World Expo, Japan
After the many experiences, lessons and knowledge gained from Paris, the industry has an opportunity to really unfurl its carbon-free wings a year later at the World Expo in Osaka, Japan. What makes this event unusal is the length of time. It will take place for six months, opening April 13th and closing November 23rd.
Osaka is planning for air taxis to fly on eight different routes leading to 20 flights per hour. Yes, 20 an hour or, over 6 months, using 8 hours a day as a guide, potentially around 28,800 air taxi rides! These craft will connect Yumeshima to airports and other locations in and around Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.
Various eVTOL companies will be involved including EHang, Joby and Volocopter, no doubt, as well as lesser known ones like SkyDrive*, flying the public from specific centres via specially constructed vertiports or converted heliports across the water to the exhibition Halls at Yumeshima, Osaka’s artificial island.
Those eVTOL companies who have secured full certification by April, 2025 could become part of a commercial bonanza. Others like Eve, for example, who nonchantly talk of certifying in 2026, may badly miss out.
*Last year, Tokyo-based SkyDrive signed a partnership agreement with the Osaka Prefectural Government to have a fleet of eVTOLs ready for use during the Expo.
Potential destinations include the city itself; the Osaka Bay area; Osaka International Airport; and Kansai International. Destinations in Kobe include the city and its Airport. Other potential locations are Awaji Island near Kobe and the region surrounding Kyoto and Ise-Shima. Direct flights as well as scenic routes are being discussed.
While the plan is still in draft form, a working group led by the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is exploring various proposals. Manufacturers and other operators are soon to be selected, where contracts will be awarded to multiple candidates in craft development and operation. The project will also select candidates to manage takeoff and landing sites. Routes and fares will be determined after talks between operators and the Association.
SkyDrive to Fly “Fleet of eVTOLs” at Osaka (pic: Skydrive)
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plans to develop the regulatory framework by no later than 2024. Regulation is key, in particular, fully certifying craft before they can commercially fly, while Air Traffic systems must be put in place to manage the proposed busy air taxi routes in already crowded skies shared by planes and helicopters.
Meanwhile, Park24, the largest car park operator in Japan, initially plans to convert a parking facility into a vertiport in the western Kansai region, close to Yumeshima, as a trial. The company owns around 20,000 parking facilities. It will adhere to guidelines drawn up in Europe and the U.S., with the aim of eventually expanding the business throughout Japan. The company is to work with UK-based vertiport construction company, Skyports. It is likely more of Park24 facilities will be transformed. This should spur other operators to compete and get involved.
The Kansai space, for example, will be able to accommodate aircraft of various sizes, from small ones that can take one or two passengers to those that have a five-person capacity suitable for longer flights. European guidelines stipulate that such bases must be at least twice the size of the aircraft they are catering for in terms of both length and width for safety and regulatory reasons. Generally, an area of approximately 3,000 sq. meters is required.
In Japan, ANA Holdings and Toyota Motor have begun studying the possibility of collaborating with emerging U.S. manufacturers to launch a flight service in time for the 2025 Expo. Japan Airlines is also aiming to instigate a service in the same year.
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is planning for widespread use of eVTOLs by the early 2030s.
2026: FIFA World Cup, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games
The following year is a gift on a golden platter for the eVTOL industry, so long as it is progressing on a safe and successful path, with three major world events occurring during March, June/July and September/October. The biggest is the FIFA World Cup held between June 8th and July 3rd, where 48 teams from six confederations will be playing.
What makes this particular tournament unique is its scope with 16 host cities involved across three countries. These are the U.S, Canada and Mexico. The U.S cities are: Atlanta, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, New York/New Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami. In Canada, Vancouver and Toronto. And Mexico, Monterrey, Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Kudos will remain key to the highlighting of eVTOLs. If one city wants them flying spectators to matches, others will follow. The novelty factor should still be a major selling point, leaving aside the speed and ease of travel, less road congestion and the all-important green stamp of approval.
The splendour of riches 2026 offers also includes The Commonwealth Games between March 17th and 26th held in the State of Victoria, Australia. Hosting cities are Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland. Alongside the Asian Games between September 19th and October 4th. Ironically, Japan is the host nation, just one year after its World Expo. Given all the lessons learned from Osaka, air taxis should be flying routinely across the skies of the holder, the Aichi Prefecture and its capital Nagoya.
Volocopter’s Strong Presence at Future World Events (pic: Volocopter)
2027: World Expo
Onward to the next World Expo two years later. Five countries have submitted proposals to hold it. The U.S (State of Minnesota); Thailand (Phuket); Serbia (Belgrade); Spain (Malaga); and Argentina (San Carlos de Bariloche).
Each has a theme for the Expo which tie in with eVTOLs. For example. Malaga offers: The Urban Era: Towards the Sustainable City and San Carlos de Bariloche: Nature + Technology = sustainable energy. A viable future for humanity.
The decision on who will be chosen as the host country is decided by the International Bureau of Expositions, an intergovernmental organisation created to supervise international exhibitions.
2028: Los Angeles Olympic Games
Now it comes full circle. By 2028, the eVTOL industry should be well and truly up and flying, readily supported and accepted by the public, where air taxis are an integral part of any major world exhibition or sporting tournament.
An enthusiastic Los Angeles is already planning for the event with its vast inventory of parking lots and high-rise roofs ready for conversion into vertiports along with a growing number of U.S eVTOL companies, close at hand, including Archer, Wisk, Joby and Beta Technologies. L.A should become the final seal of approval. After all the challenges faced and the hardwork, at neckbreak speed, achieved during the previous six years, the eVTOL Industry has arrived.
Any initial gremlins are smoothed over; eVTOL shares are soaring on the stock market; with company consolidation or others falling by the wayside. The industry leaders will be all apparent as the public warmly embrace this new form of air travel.
The band ‘M’ and their late 1970s hit song Pop Muzik, comes to mind.
I wanna dedicate it, (Pop, pop, shoo wop)
Everybody made it, (Shoobie, doobie, do wop)
Infiltrate it (Pop, pop, shoo wop)
Paris, ‘Saka, Houston, Phuket, LA,
Everybody talk about air taxis.
(Top pic: vector.com)