Since the Wright Brothers’ first flight more than a hundred years ago, the aviation industry has continuously innovated and evolved as time goes on. From Frank Whittle’s Jet engine in the 1940s, to commercial supersonic flight in the 1970s and revolutionary digital fly-by-wire technology on the Airbus A320, it is an industry that is always on the cutting edge of technology.

It is no different today. While hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels will help aviation innovate a path to net zero, there is another, market emerging from aerospace innovations – advanced air mobility. This will be the first in a series of blogs about this emerging field, looking in depth at some of the technology and some of the questions the industry will need to answer.

What is advanced air mobility (AAM)?

At its core, AAM is about rethinking the way that aircraft serve our societies and communities, by disruptive technology such as electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen powered vertical take off and landing (VTOL) vehicles.

AAM will unlock a whole new era of aviation, a more decentralised route network and even greater utility than conventional aircraft. These new vehicles are most commonly battery-electric small aircraft that, thanks to the efficiency and economics of the electric motor, are able to fly routes that would be commercially unviable for a jet aircraft. Think intra-city (flights within a city, or urban air mobility) or inter-city (flights between cities, or regional air mobility).

These short routes, many of which are set out in an ADS’ Distributed Aviation report last year, are a whole new way of thinking about aviation – delivering green, sustainable, guilt-free flights.

What could a future AAM market look like?

The UK is well poised to be a world leader in this new market. Our natural geography and pre-existing deep network of aerospace skills and expertise perfectly suit the rollout of eVTOL aircraft. ADS member Vertical Aerospace, an OEM for an entirely new eVTOL, has secured a significant order from Virgin Atlantic, who could use the new aircraft to connect existing services at major airports quickly with cities that may lack any direct public transport to an airport – for example, Leicester to Heathrow.

Another potential use case would be providing new, fast and efficient connections between UK cities and regions, such as connecting Hull to Manchester, Wick to Kirkwall, Exeter to Cardiff or Liverpool to Belfast. Flights within large cities could be a reality, too, initially serving airport-to-city-centre, but as the technology matures and the rollout continues at pace, prices will fall, range will increase and more opportunities could be unlocked.

ADS’ AAM Market Outlook, published by the ADS AAM Special Interest Group found an average market forecast of up to $510bn by 2040 – achievable with the right policy, technology and regulatory development.


On March 2 and 3, the Global Urban and Advanced Air Summit (GUAAS) will take place at Farnborough International, a gathering of AAM industry leaders to showcase insight and innovations in this emerging space. 2022 promises to be an even bigger year for AAM, with a focus turning to demonstrations and certification, and the discussions at GUAAS 2022 will play a key role in driving the development of this exciting and innovative industry forward.

Don’t miss out at GUAAS – ADS members can register here and get 10% off.