Brazil’s eVTOL opportunities grow ever brighter


Brazil boasts not only the biggest population in South America, at 212.6m, but also one of the world’s best opportunities to commercialise eVTOLs and urban air mobility (UAM), according to Paul Malicki, CEO and co-founder of helicopter and fixed wing charter specialist Flapper.

The latest example of that promise came last week when Embraer company Eve revealed it had formalised the process for obtaining a type certificate for its eVTOL aircraft with the Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC). Eve, with ANAC support, will continue engaging with other leading aviation authorities to formalise the type certificate validation process around the world, pledged the UAM developer.

Roberto Honorato, ANAC’s airworthiness superintendent explains its significance. “It is an important moment that demonstrates the company’s commitment to exploring the future of urban air mobility,” he says. “The process aims to achieve the best safety standards to allow eVTOL access to the global market. From the regulation perspective, there is much work to be done concerning aircraft technology and the definition of the entire ecosystem. Brazil has the conditions and engagement to deal with this challenge.”

Flapper CEO Malicki (pictured below) agrees. His company recently staged a UAM trial with partner Eve in Brazil’s second most populous city Rio de Janeiro, with the full support of the Brazilian authorities. (Significantly, new entrants to private flight accounted for at least 30% of the clients in the trial). “I don’t see regulatory issues as a problem – at least here in Latin America,” he says. “That’s in sharp contrast to the US and Europe where I do see winning regulatory approval as one of the key challenges.”

It’s not just the favourable regulatory environment. The urban public in Latin America is much more tolerant to air transport than their counterparts – particularly in North America and Europe. NIMBYism, or ‘not-in-my-back-yard’ culture has yet to make an impact in South America, he says. For example, Sao Paulo has 200 helipads, 40 of which are used each day. In stark contrast New York has four helipads and San Franciso one – plus a website which actively campaigns for its closure.

Malicki believes eVTOLs, preceded by hybrid aircraft, offer an historic opportunity to welcome millions more into private airborne transport by cutting costs and reducing environmental impacts such as noise and carbon emissions. “It will open the market to an entirely new audience – the people who today use their cars or an Uber to travel from their home to the airport,” Malicki tells Helicopter Investor.

Two key factors are the promise of far lower UAM cost per seat mile, compared with conventional flights, and growing private wealth. “If you can reduce the cost, you can open the market to the upper middle class. We want to make sure you can fly more routes at less cost [than helicopter or fixed wing flights] without compromising service and quality,” he says.

As a local example, he points to the Brazilian megacity of São Paulo, with its 20m inhabitants. Significant numbers of that population are now accumulating the wealth to enable them one day take an eVTOL to their beachside property or country villa, he says.

Eve is planning to service this demand in Brazil and around the world with a fully electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle that aims to, in the company’s words, “democratise passenger access to a new urban air transport model”. The eVTOL aircraft is designed to provide safe and comfortable travel with low-noise and zero-carbon emissions.

Returning to the recent type certificate process agreement, Luiz Felipe Valentini, Eve’s chief technology officer, says it is an important step in the discussions between Eve and ANAC for the certification of urban mobility vehicles. “In addition to demonstrating Eve’s commitment to the development of the project, it allows the institutions to evolve in the definition of the requirements and means of compliance applicable to certification,” he says.

Meanwhile, don’t miss the profile of Flapper and its CEO Paul Malicki in the next edition of our sister title Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly. Click here to order your free copy.