Govt ready to build policy for eVTOL: MOCA
The ministry is slated to commission an e-VTOL study soon
After building the drone ecosystem and a policy for helicopters, a policy ecosystem for the e-VTOLS (electric vertical; take-off and landing systems) is the next frontier for the government, said Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal while speaking at the two-day CII Advanced Short Haul Air (ASHA) Mobility 2023 conference held this week in Bengaluru.
“After Production Linked Scheme for drones is being rolled out this month, we are now ready to take the next big steps in the e-VTOL system” Bansal said. He said the ministry would soon commission a study in the e-VTOL space to understand it better.
E-VTOL is a type of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically. This technology came about after advances in electric propulsion (motors, batteries, fuel cells, electronic controllers) and the need for aerial vehicles technology for urban air mobility that can enable greener and quieter flights. The Secretary indicated that e-VTOL is the next big air-mobility space to focus on after drones.
“Two years back we started building the drone ecosystem. In September 2021, after intense industry consultations, a set of initiatives were taken to liberalise the drone ecosystem, to put in place drone rules, a digital skymap, a regulatory system to regulate the growth of drones, policy initiatives, regulate growth of remote pilot system, certification of drones, financial incentives for drone manufacturing called Production Linked Initiatives. In one and half years, we already have 15 certified drones today, and another five in pipeline with Directorate General of Civil Aviation. I expect this number to go upto 50 in next one to two years” Bansal added. India has also released a dedicated policy for helicopters in 2021.
He said e-VTOL is the next technology that the ministry will focus on as it has applications that address both densely populated urban spaces as well as sparsely populated remote lands and smaller cities and towns.
Noting that the event will set the tone for policy brainstorming in the e-VTOL space, Bansal called for studying the global protocols around the space and defining roles and responsibility of various government and regulatory bodies such as Defence Ministry, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airport Authority of India, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which is the safety regulator, among others.
The e-VTOL is being pegged as a solution by aviation experts which may contribute to India’s progression towards net-zero goals, if it is tapped properly.
“The evolution of Advanced Air Mobility as a mass transit platform would also need development of other tech platforms in the ecosystem. As an example, Traffic management system with an automated ATC providing directions to aircraft would facilitate efficiency and safety,” said Amit Datta, Chairman of CII Taskforce for Short Haul Air Mobility.
Some of the significant MoUs or agreements signed at the two-day conference included Hunch Ventures collaborating with Beta Technologies for operations, manufacturing, assembly, services, and maintenance of eVTOLs in India. The MoU also looks at establishing a common battery charging infrastructure. Jaunt Air Mobility and Hunch Ventures will work together to launch Jaunt's eVTOL operations in India by developing the relevant infrastructure, public education, and policy frameworks.
Hunch is also slated to collaborate with Skyports towards the establishment of vertiport infrastructure in India and cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pune have been identified as the pilot areas for the same. The terms sheet of the MoU between Eve Air Mobility and BLADE India encompasses the purchase of Eve's hybrid electric crafts. Additionally the partnership between the two is slated to witness BLADE explore software solutions and services for the air mobility ecosystem with Eve. Incidentally, BLADE India began in 2019 as a joint venture between BLADE USA and Hunch Ventures.