Groundbreaking report sets 20-year market value of $318B across eVTOL operators, vehicle manufacturers and infrastructure providers in 74 cities

By VFS Staff

In August, NEXA Advisors and VFS announced the completion of a comprehensive year-long study, “Urban Air Mobility—Economics and Global Markets.” The groundbreaking NEXA report, undertaken with support from VFS, contains forecasts for 74 metropolitan areas over the period of 2020–2040. The online databases include thousands of geocoded data features and characteristics of each city, as well as the study’s findings on their potential market for urban air mobility (UAM). Included on these web pages are custom ArcGIS maps of each city. The public can explore the deep city-level analysis available, using New York City as an example, at www.nexa-uam.com. Companies and municipalities seeking access can check the price list for available packages.

A division of the investment bank NEXA Capital Partners, LLC, NEXA Advisors provides corporate and strategic financial advisory services, and business intelligence, to the aerospace, transportation, logistics and geomatics sectors.

Leading Cities for UAM Adoption

Each metropolitan area has a unique “DNA” — a complex blend of current transportation issues, congestion, population density, airports, existing transportation infrastructure, regulation, business aviation, gross domestic product (GDP), local politics, per capita income, and a host of other factors — that contribute to the likelihood of it being an early or late user of electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. “Despite the many differences, even the smallest cities will eventually create sustainable and profitable UAM services for their communities,” said Michael Dyment, NEXA’s Managing Partner. “With over 60 data layers, the interactive city data sets allow subscribers to analyze their own investment opportunities and business cases, an unparalleled tool in today’s emerging UAM market.”

The study was conducted to accelerate investment into UAM markets. “We wrote it primarily because many of our investors and charter subscribers are hoping to unpack the universe of urban air mobility to put capital to work, but can’t yet decide what or where the early opportunities are,” said Dyment. “The UAM Market studies prepared by Morgan Stanley, Booz Allen and others over the past year were very good but high level, so we took a different approach: Start with the cities and examine UAM from the unique characteristics inherent in each one. This would help identify early investment opportunities.”

The report noted that there will be an “inflection point” when certified automation systems can permit pilotless passenger flights within the next decade; this is where the market will start to grow exponentially to an estimated 1.3 billion passengers predicted in the 74 cities over the 20-year period, with a demand for 28,000 eVTOL aircraft.

NASA Urban Air Mobility vision
Example of an Urban Air Mobility vision by NASA. (NASA credit)

“This report is also a first attempt to identify the cost of UAM infrastructure: $32B for all 74 cities by 2040. This is very affordable as potential revenues generated from this infrastructure will be in excess of $244B,” Dyment noted. There are more investment opportunities than just infrastructure, however. “We tallied up a 20-year forecast of a $318B opportunity for infrastructure (vertiports, traffic management), vehicles and five different UAM operator segments: airport shuttle, on-demand air taxi, emergency services, business aviation (corporate campus) and regional (250 mile) point-to-point charters,” Dyment noted, “Six other market segments including cargo and military will be studied later.”

The landmark study was a joint undertaking by respected aerospace industry organizations, associations, researchers, publishers and marketing and financial advisors. The lead underwriting sponsor is NEXA Advisors, a NEXA Capital Partners LLC company with a proven record performing “multi-client” investment-related research for the aerospace sector. The Vertical Flight Society contributed its expertise and its extensive library of technical and research studies and white papers covering critical topics in electric VTOL, including vehicle developers. The other study sponsors were the Aviation Week Network, Blue Raster, Crown Consulting, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), Gannett Fleming, JetNet, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and Unmanned Airspace.

“We are especially grateful for the diligent research support provided by the Vertical Flight Society, and look forward to their assistance in evaluating the six adjacent UAM markets we intend to research this Fall,” said Dyment.

Geomatics

NEXA gave the first public presentation of the study at the VFS “Workshop on eVTOL Defining Challenges for Urban Air Mobility: Infrastructure, Airspace Management and System Safety,” Sept. 10–12, in Washington, DC (presentations can be downloaded at no charge by VFS members via the workshop webpage, www.vtol.org/dc).

At the VFS Workshop, NEXA also announced the formation of a new company, Urban Air Mobility Geomatics, LLC, a new business intelligence entity to accelerate investment into eVTOL flight through analytical tools and advanced models, supported by geospatial data and business case analysis. UAM Geomatics is partnered with Blue Raster, an award-winning Esri pioneer in interactive ArcGIS technology.

The UAM opportunity — arguably a trillion-dollar market — is critically hampered because the aerospace sector lacks basic business intelligence needed to make the financial case for both vehicle and infrastructure investment, NEXA said. “The industry has an urgent need of improved reliability of market forecast information as well as relevant geocoded data pinpointing heliports, hospitals, power lines, airports, airspace boundaries, and even corporate headquarters, in order to start planning eVTOL networks for the world’s major cities,” Dyment stated.

Much of the current market intelligence available is outdated, grossly inaccurate, or unsupported by data, Dyment noted. For example, NEXA’s UAM report identified thousands of heliports representing over $4 billion in infrastructure value not officially recorded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or Air Navigation Service Providers.

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