Volocopter Jumps To No. 2 Spot On AAM Reality Index

Certification of Volocopter’s piloted two-seat VoloCity air taxi is now expected in 2024. 

Credit: Volocopter

Volocopter ascended to the second-highest slot on the AAM Reality Index in February, bypassing Archer Aviation and EHang, as the German startup continues to make progress toward certification of its two-passenger VoloCity electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle by 2024. 

Created by SMG Consulting and updated every two months, the AAM Reality Index ranks advanced air mobility OEMs on a 10-point scale according to five metrics: funding, leadership team, technology readiness, certification progress and production readiness. 

Sergio Cecutta, founder and partner at SMG Consulting, says Volocopter’s move higher reflects the fact that it has received both Designation Organization Approval (DOA) and Production Organization Approval (POA) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), important milestones on its path to achieving the first eVTOL certified under the agency’s Special Condition for VTOL (SC-VTOL).

“They’ve already flown their preproduction aircraft, and we think it’s only a matter of time before they fly their fully conforming aircraft,” Cecutta says. “Their configuration is also relatively simple–as in it never transitions in flight–and we think that will simplify the process for them.”

Meanwhile, Archer ticked higher to tie EHang in the No. 3  slot, which Cecutta credited to the publication of its G-1 certification basis by the FAA for comment in December. This is an important milestone that so far only Joby and Archer have achieved in the U.S.

Unlike Volocopter and Archer, Lilium fared poorly in the latest edition of the AAM Reality Index. It slid all the way from No. 6 in December to No. 13 in February amid concerns it will have to raise substantial funds in order to stave off a liquidity crisis. The German company estimates it needs to find an additional $540 million to fund operations through to type certification, according to recent regulatory filings. Predelivery payments from its Lilium Jet Pioneer Edition could net it up to  €250 million ($271.5 million) in down payments this year, but more funds will be needed.

“I think that last quarterly report kind of cemented the fact that they really don’t have the money for certification,” Cecutta says. “They’ll definitely have to go back to the street to raise more soon, which was probably one of the reasons for the recent CFO change–to reinvigorate their fundraising efforts.”

Another company Cecutta highlights is Shanghai-based Autoflight, which is designing and certifying its Prosperity 1 eVTOL in Europe through a German subsidiary, although the company plans to manufacture its vehicles in China. The company, which ticked up to the No. 17 spot from No. 21 previously, “has been quietly making a lot of progress,” Cecutta says. He observed that it has achieved transition with a full-scale prototype, and already has two plants up and running in China that are capable of actually churning out aircraft.

“I think that’s unique, because this manufacturing footprint is actually bigger than what Joby or Archer have right now,” Cecutta says.

Joby Aviation clung to the AAM Reality Index’s top slot in February with a score of 8.7, compared to 8.6 for Volocopter, 8.1 for both Archer and EHang, 8.0 for Beta Technologies, 7.7 for Eve Holding and 7.5 for Wisk Aero.

Ben Goldstein

Based in Boston, Ben covers advanced air mobility and is managing editor of Aviation Week Network’s AAM Report.