VFS reports membership growth in 2021
The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) reported that the explosive growth of world’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has significantly expanded its membership
As of 1 January 2022, a total of 163 companies are now members of VFS, a net 19 per cent growth from a year ago and a doubling over the past five years. The number of individual members has also grown to more than 6,300 – a net increase of nearly 10 per cent (550 individuals) over the past 12 months and a 30-per-cent growth (1,400 individuals) over the past five years. Much of this growth is due to the extensive support efforts and resources that VFS provides to the vertical flight industry, including technical resources, talent acquisition, educational opportunities, and networking.
These new corporate members include companies, non-profits and government agencies from around the world who are supporting all aspects of vertical flight. In addition to civil and military rotorcraft developments, such as the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, eVTOL developments increased markedly in 2021.
The past year saw big investments in eVTOL
“This past year saw steady technical progress and eye-popping financial investments in the leading eVTOL developers,” said Mike Hirschberg, VFS Executive Director. “VFS had estimated US$4.5 billion of investments in eVTOL companies in 2010-2020. However, last year saw several additional developers go public and/or attract sizeable private investments; the total additional global estimate in 2021 alone was around $6 billion.”
As of today, the Society has catalogued over 590 different electric VTOL concepts from nearly 350 companies and innovators on its World eVTOL Aircraft Directory. When VFS launched the site in April 2017, only a dozen eVTOL programs were under development. Nearly 200 new designs were added in 2021 alone.
When VFS launched the first TVF meeting in 2014, the idea of electric VTOL aircraft was greeted with widespread scepticism, but growing technical progress, flight demonstrations, government validation and private investment have helped reverse public perception. It is now recognized that the vertical flight market is poised for significant expansion over the next few years as eVTOL aircraft enter service that can have higher performance than conventional helicopters for certain missions, as well as lower operating costs and lower noise.
VFS was founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943 by the visionaries of the early helicopter industry, who believed that technological cooperation and collaboration were essential to support this new type of aircraft. Today, history is repeating itself, with VFS playing a similar role helping to advance today’s revolutionary eVTOL aircraft.
Meanwhile, The UK Civil Aviation Authority has established an international consortium of eVTOL industry leaders and aviation experts.