The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Aviation Takes a Low Profile At Virtual Consumer Electronics Show

This week’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has largely proved to be a non-event for the aviation sector. Recent editions of CES, which is usually held in Las Vegas, have seen high-profile unveilings of eVTOL aircraft like Bell’s Nexus and important announcements such as Hyundai and Uber Elevate partnering over the new SA-1 model.

Japanese personal air vehicle developer SkyDrive was one of the few advanced air mobility exhibitors at CES. Last week, the company displayed a one-sixth-scale model of its SD-XX vehicle at the CES 2021 Japan Tech event

SkyDrive, which was established in 2018 as part of the Cartivator consortium, made a first public flight demonstration with a prototype model in the summer of 2020. It aims to have the vehicle available in Japan in 2023 and is already marketing a smaller cargo drone.

General Motors (GM) sprung something of a surprise on the CES audience when it announced that its so-called Halo Portfolio of new products will include a single-seat eVTOL vehicle branded as a Cadillac. The auto giant disclosed few details about the proposed model beyond the expectation that it will be powered by a 90-kWh electric motor and operate at speeds of up to 56 mph.

A video animation of the design appeared to show four ducted fans, with two on the underside of the fuselage and two on the top. On closer examination, each of this units appeared to be a pair of partly encased rotors. Some observers have already questioned whether the proposed power rating of the single motor would be sufficient for the airframe and also whether what passes for landing gear would meet aviation safety standards.

GM has declined to give a timeline for getting the air vehicle to market or to provide any further details of its plans for the program. Michael Simcoe, the group’s vice president of global design, told reporters that the project is part of its effort to “reimagine the future of personal transportation for the next five years and beyond."

Dutch flying car developer Pal-V was also on the CES exhibitor list this year. The company's CEO and founder, Robert Dingemanse, is aiming for the new Liberty version of the two-seater to complete EASA Part 27 certification in 2022.

In October 2020, the vehicle completed the European approval process for use on public roads. Pal-V says owners will be able to fly the Liberty with a new category of private pilot licenses for gyroplanes.

More than one aviation company told FutureFlight that they had declined to participate in this year's CES because they considered the cost of doing so to be excessively high for a virtual event.