“…For years now we have been hearing about the promise of a different kind of air transportation, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) or Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), as NASA likes to call it. Most, if not all designs, we have seen so far are purely electric in what has become a well-known acronym eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing). Unfortunately, the crude reality is that a battery-only approach severely limits the endurance and payload of any aerial vehicle. This is very different when we deal with terrestrial vehicles or electric cars, which can function for hundreds of miles without recharging or overheating.
The battery industry has almost exhausted the growth potential of existing chemistry. The need for new compounds and innovation grows, as reality of these limitations sets in. Unfortunately for the aircraft industry, the real market for batteries lies in the car industry rather than the aerospace industry, and therefore the appetite for large investments in R&D is largely absent.
Let us be realistic, the non-traditional aviation industry must look elsewhere for the answers to increase flying time and heavier payloads. One quick alternative is the use of hybrid models, as in the case of sUAV (small unmanned aerial vehicles) where innovators such as Parallel Flight Technologies, Skyfront, and many others have obtained great efficiencies from small internal combustion engines to generate the energy used to power their electric motors.
Now, a new company, PARAGON VTOL Aerospace has launched an initiative to create the first hybrid UAM vehicle by adding an internal combustion engine to the energy mix to increase flying time and useful payload.