eVTOL, Hybrid Planes & other Experimental aircraft

There are two hundred experimental electric planes under development in 2022. So, who are going to be the winners?

New Power sources – to replace Jet A1 kerosene. 

And if you think it’s all batteries, then you’d be wrong. There are a variety of power sources being tested. From standard batteries hybrid engines (like cars) to Hydrogen all the way to Magnetohydrodynamics – the use of “electric fluids” being studied by MIT

eVTOL’s are electric planes. And hybrid aircraft are also being marketed as electric aircraft. Then we have hydrogen conversion kits for current commercial aircraft.

Put simply, the market is complex, and some start-ups are further along the road than others. And by this we mean in raising money and their profile and thus attracting investor and operator attention. They are staffed with the top eVTOL roles. 

Eve Air over London

But only a small number have the prized TYPE CERTIFICATE you need to prove you’ve satisfied your authority from a design validation perspective. 

Besides the billions of dollars being spent (and potentially being won by those who will rise to the top) there’s also the sustainability targets that investors and airlines and hedge funds need to meet. Or suffer the wrath of investors. 

“You’ve got to mandate the people who produce the planes, the engines, the fuels, operate the air traffic control systems. They’re all standing there staring at us, saying, ‘OK guys now, you do it.’ In the same way as the car industry was forced to deliver, they’ve got to be forced to deliver. It clearly requires proper government policy.”

First the bad news – the following aircraft are primarily for the urban mobility and short-haul markets. The maximum range being 250 nautical miles and under. 

For the medium-haul (1-4 hours) and long-haul (4+ hours, batteries don’t work. Hydrogen is our best bet.

Let’s not forget SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) which is fuel as we know it, but produced from a sustainable source that isn’t fossil.

Top 10 eVTOL start-ups

Vertical Aerospace VX4

The VX4 is top of the pile in terms of the partner operators. Virgin Atlantic, Japanese Airlines and GOL all having placed firm orders with lessor Avolon who have backed the VX4 for success. 

Vertical are also close to certification, with their POA scheduled for next year. 

Speed 200 mph. Range 100 miles. 

Lilium Jet

Propeller driven using 36 electromagnetic motors delivered using tilting flaps. The design allows for vertical take-off and landing and adjust for cruising. Just like the Harrier jet. Netjets are involved. 

Speed 190 mph. Range 190 miles. 

Airbus Citybus

Originally developed by the A-cubed group, Airbus OEM and their urban mobility group, this project is now with Airbus Helicopters. The only eVTOL to have such a design pedigree, and we expect those stats to improve drastically. The design also has noise deflection as a priority. 

Speed 120 mph. Range 15 minutes. 

BETA Technologies Alia 250

The only eVTOL with a freighter variant in the top 10. Which is a smart move, if you want to secure in-service operational time to show design robustness. And the one with the best range stats. BETA has also attracted lessor interest from LCI. 

Speed 170 mph. Range 250 miles. 

Heart Aerospace ES-19

19 Seater, all electric aircraft that can recharge in 40 minutes. No wonder United ordered 100. Finnair are also a launch customer. United will place them with MESA, who are well situated in terms of route network. 

Speed 200 mph. Range 225 miles. 


Not an aircraft, but a new engine technology. A Hydrogen-electric powertrain to be exact. Designed to compete with the PWC 127 range of propeller engines with zero emissions and noise. Hydrogen has long been marked as the replacement for Jet A1, so we have high hopes for Val and his team. 

Speed tba mph. Range tba miles. 

EVE Air Mobility

Founded only in 2020 from Brazil’s Embraer Group. So design pedigree is inherited from the builders of successful regional jets like the E190. Stats are unknown but likely to be in that 200/200 range like the others. 

Speed tba mph. Range tba miles. 


Some more cynical folks might say this is just an electrified helicopter. We hope it is, because re-purposed design platforms that have certification history. It means safety and durability. Sure it might not look as cool as the VX4, but this is german designed. So there. 

Speed tba mph. Range tba miles. 

Joby Aviation

Joby might be low on this list, but we hope you made it here because they are close to FAA Part 135 certification after 1000 hours of testing.  This aircraft also claims to be 100x quieter than a helicopter while being faster. Aimed primarily at the helicopter market.

Speed 200 mph. Range 150 miles. 

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