Skip to Content

How the advent of advanced air mobility will pave the way for more connected and sustainable aviation

Gianmarco Scalabrin
15 Jun 2022

In the fourth of our “Intelligent Industry: Journey to Farnborough International Airshow” blog series, Gianmarco Scalabrin explores how advanced air mobility is ready for prime time and will play a crucial role in connecting communities while helping aviation drastically reduce its CO2 emissions.

By 2050, global population is projected to grow to nearly 10 billion, with almost 70% of us living in urban environments (worldbank, 2022). Commuting to work has become a considerable time sink for millions of people around the world, and also contributes significantly to the rapid growth of CO2 emissions.

To solve the urban traffic puzzle, we need better alternatives to current modes of transport. In order for them to be socially viable, they must be more efficient, sustainable, and at least as safe as current solutions.

The search is on for better, more sustainable transportation technologies that will improve commute times and the transport of goods across towns and cities.

Unquestionably, electric vehicles (EVs), ride-hailing platforms, autonomous shuttles, and high-speed trains will all be part of our multimodal transportation network. But there are other alternative means of transportation that might just be moving from the drawing board to the real world.

One anticipated solution is the Hyperloop, a concept for high-speed pods travelling in underground tunnels, which was put forward in 2013 by Elon Musk. This technology will not be discussed in this blog, however, but if you want to know more about it, please visit:

More recently, another “3D” mode of travel is being used in urban commuting and goods deliveries contexts. Thanks to recent progress in electric propulsion, batteries, AI, and aerospace engineering, we believe Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), powered by electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, is ready for prime time and can play a crucial role in connecting communities and pave the way for clean aviation.

The aim of this blog is to:

  • Provide a reflection on which factors AAM stakeholders need to leverage to accelerate our transition towards integrated air mobility services.
  • Draw a panorama of solutions and cross-industry technologies for a successful AAM integration.

At Capgemini, we are committed to accelerating the adoption of these technologies as we believe AAM will enable us to:

  • Deploy an attractive alternative to current transportation solutions, from autonomous cargo deliveries to passenger air taxi operations (real-time savings and convenience will drive the customers’ perceived value).
  • Accelerate the shift to sustainable and more connected aviation, by testing and certifying electric and hydrogen powertrains in aircraft.

As a matter of fact, we are inspired by the multitude of companies trying to solve these hard problems, and we are confident that there is a good chance we will be commuting to work in air taxis within the decade, and perhaps even sooner.

What is an eVTOL and why does it matter?

In general, current eVTOL aircraft concepts are light commercial aircrafts that can take off and land vertically like helicopters and fly forward like airplanes. They use batteries to power electric motors (either propellers or fan-driven), and are less complex, more silent, and less expensive to operate than helicopters. Initially, they are designed to fly at a lower altitude than commercial aircraft and will be piloted.

Therefore, eVTOLs represent a key enabler in diminishing traffic congestion while paving the way for more sustainable aviation, powered by sustainable energy sources.

To put it into perspective, aviation alone accounts for ~3.6% of total EU28 greenhouse gas emissions and ~13.4% of emissions from transportation (EASA,2019).

By developing, testing, and deploying electric eVTOL aircraft, we are accelerating the advent of net-zero aviation, and this is paramount if we want to contribute to our planet’s prosperity.

“There is a lot more to it than meets the eye”

Developing the technologies required for eVTOL aircraft is itself very onerous. However, the aircraft are just a tiny piece of the mobility-as-a-service puzzle that will make cities truly smart and aerial transportation more efficient.

Building a sustainable market requires an ecosystem of companies and experts that can work together to solve hard problems. To successfully integrate and operate air taxi services in urban landscapes, AAM stakeholders need to address the following six key factors to drive success:

  • Demonstrate eVTOL safety and performances through rigorous certification compliances before any commercial operation
  • Integrate airspace and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) for low-altitude and unmanned air operations
  • Develop the ground and digital infrastructure (e.g. vertiports, customer entertainment)
  • Engage with cities and the regulatory ecosystem
  • Provide competitive service-based pricing
  • Help the public accept these new modes of transport

Besides competitive pricing, which can be incrementally reduced after services launch, the remaining five factors need to be ready before cities and communities can profit from AAM services.

Collaboration across industries and the stakeholders in their respective value chains is essential.

Market success in initial applications will demand expertise in a multitude of disciplines:

  • Aeronautical engineering, testing, certification, and regulatory compliance
  • Li-Ion battery technology, hybrid-electric powertrains
  • Communications and computing, digital security
  • Mass production, vertiport, and recharge infrastructure

The business model to bring eVTOLs to market requires that the ecosystem of companies and experts work together and solve tough problems. Aerospace or automotive companies will not be successful on their own, while digital and software natives are positioned to act as the connection between the physical aircraft and the customer’s interaction with the service, which will be a key part of the overall customer experience.

Cross-industry collaboration is therefore the crucial linchpin for success, and we should not take it for granted.

As a technology company, we are committed to developing cross-industry technologies and workflows to help our customer accelerate their vision for a sustainable future. Here’s a glimpse:

How data & AI will help AAM manufacturers drastically reduce their certification efforts and time to market

Achieving certification in new, low-carbon aerospace systems requires a range of challenges to be addressed and is by far the most expensive task when bringing an aircraft to market.

As part of the systems certification journey, companies are required to:

  • Demonstrate compliance of each of the aircraft’s systems
  • Collect and treat an enormous amount of data from ground and flight tests
  • Prepare to scale and begin operations

How are we helping AAM manufacturers accelerate their certification programs from requirements specifications to safety and compliance analysis?

We leverage key findings and our expertise from automotive and data-driven technologies. We do this by building workflows and digital native toolchains to support aircraft type certification. Automation, AI, and data science enable us to:

  • Automate tasks orchestration, and the generation of test cases exploiting a wide variety of sources of evidence, such as Model-in-the-Loop, Software-in-the-Loop, and Hardware-in-the-Loop (MIL, SIL & HIL) testing, computational analysis, and flight tests
  • Maximize the ROI on data acquired through SIL/HIL and testing
  • Improve the traceability of evidence generation via hybrid-cloud solutions
  • Build digital twins of flight scenarios. These can be extended to fleet operations and rely on flight test campaign results and advanced analytics to better address AAM impacts on cities and the environment (noise pollution, etc.)

As examples, these help us to ease the burden of aircraft certification and accelerate test reviews and evidence generation.

In addition, digital twins and applied AI provide better insights on the impact AAM will have on urban communities, providing solutions for infrastructure providers and urban planning.

In conclusion, we stand by our belief that there is a very good chance we will be flying in air taxis within the decade. We consider this to be a great opportunity to accelerate the advent of zero-emission commercial aviation by 2035.

However, a coherent, networked set of options will be required to connect all the dots from a person’s front door to their destination. The aircraft is only one of these dots.

Working to bring this holistic ecosystem to life will be good for all Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) players. Just like the eVTOL ecosystem, cross-industry collaboration must engage all the stakeholders: city planners, energy providers, regulators, telecommunication providers, infrastructure, and, of course, mobility service providers.

As for advancing eVTOL services, there is a variety of challenges ahead. Some are within the control of the companies developing the aircraft and the services. But others are outside their direct control, such as advancements in electric and clean power sources, regulations, and social acceptance, the latter being perhaps the most critical.

Collaboration with all players is the best approach to success. Not only will it speed time-to-market, but it will also distribute the risk embedded in the evolution of the new transit ecosystem.


To read more blogs in the Intelligent Industry: Journey to Farnborough International Airshow series, see quick links below:

A Quantum of Intelligent Industry – Mike Dwyer considers the potential impact that the world of quantum computing, sensing and communication could have on our ability to create new intelligent products and services.

Innovation at Speed: What Intelligent Industry can learn from Formula One’s data driven innovation – Ashish Padhi delves into the data driven rapid innovation process of Formula One aerodynamic design to prise out lessons for Intelligent Industry.

Enabling Digital Twins with Systems Engineering – Adam Lancaster & Scott Reid explore how to enable Digital Twins across the full lifecycle, using Systems Engineering techniques.