ILA Berlin opened on 5 June with a discussion on the ‘Future of eVTOLS in Germany’, featuring major players in the manufacturing side of the growing market, including Airbus Urban and Lillium.

AAM is one of the key themes on the civil side of the aviation sector, but the next steps are unclear in Europe. While state backing is propelling some US and Chinese companies to the forefront, money is one of the sticking points in Germany, and so it was on the panel.

Klaus Rowe, former Airbus executive and now CEO of eVTOL developer Lilium, was keen to press home the importance of government support in the form of loan guarantees (“We’re not asking for charity”) in a multilateral world. His particular concern was the backing of companies such as Joby across the Atlantic, which he said benefit from government and military support that is not currently viable in the EU.

“It’s a $2bn affair, like it or not,” Rowe told the audience. While private equity has been a key source of capital for many AAM firms, Rowe said investors were looking to countries that showed their support for the still nascent industry. Without German government input, he said, the country could lose its healthy position to others more willing to back the young industry.

In the end, AAM and eVTOL development is a business exercise, according to Rowe and the other panellists.

Despite the argument on how to achieve the reality of ubiquitous AAM or eVTOLs, Tom Plummer, CEO of Wingcopter, said the change of perspective towards the next phase of the aviation industry is clear.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

“eVtol is known now, you don’t need to explain it,” he remarked, thanking the large crowd of around 50 people that gathered at the specific AAM stage at ILA to hear the panel. Just a few years ago the crowd for a similar discussion was a mere three or four people, Plummer said. The same picture can be drawn from Wingcopter’s financial journey from start-up to the 100-staff company it is today, but even with hundreds of millions of dollars invested, Plummer said a “big series B in the next year or two” will be key to its maturation and market viability.

Balkiz Sarihan, CEO of Airbus Urban (and the sole woman on the panel), concurred, noting the prevalence of such dedicated arenas that simply did not exist five years ago.

However, for the potential to really take hold in the German aviation market, the business leaders were clear in their messaging to the Federal government and its representative on the panel, Daniel Phiesel, head of the Unmanned Aviation Group within the transport department: more support is needed.

It seems that call could soon be answered as Phiesel revealed Germany would be publishing a formal Advanced Air Mobility strategy before the end of 2024.

Airbus Urban has already committed to basing its AAM development entirely in Germany, but Sarihan said “cash will not get us there”. The tech might have matured, but working both inside and out of the sector was needed to establish community support and trust in AAM projects.

Nevertheless, she was happy to declare that Airbus Urban’s project would be airborne before the end of 2024, but in private tests rather than air shows.

One of many topics at ILA is the best solution to aviation’s needs in a rapidly changing environmental and energy world. While electrification may not be the only answer, Sarihan said it is “one of the magic pills”.

Lilium is another proponent of battery electric technology – and again one that is set to quite literally take off in 2024. “Look out for us at Paris Airshow 2025,” Rowe hinted.