Unsettled Issues Concerning the Opportunities and Challenges of eVTOL Applications during a Global Pandemic EPR2020022
Recent advancements of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft have generated significant interest within and beyond the traditional aviation industry, and many new and novel applications have been identified and under development. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the challenges of managing a global pandemic response due to the difference in regional and local resources, culture, and political systems. Although there may not be a uniform crisis management strategy that the world can agree on, we can leverage a new generation of vertical flight vehicles to make a difference if (or when) such a global epidemic strikes again. One of the key challenges realized in the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak is the ability to allocate and distribute limited and critical medical resources, including equipment, supplies, medical personnel, and first responders to the hot spots when and where they may be needed. The on-demand logistics capabilities could be enhanced by the availability of new-generation eVTOL aircraft and their forthcoming autonomous operation. The ability to land and takeoff at many unconventional locations makes eVTOL aircraft valuable assists for complementing and enhancing on-demand logistic needs. To make such operations truly productive is not easy; there are reassociated challenges that needed to be addressed to enable the benefit of such a system. In addition to having a large enough eVTOL fleet near a location that can be available for the pandemic responses, the support system and the ability to deploy and reposition the fleet dynamically with supporting infrastructures are also required. Based on the rapid development progress of eVTOL, it is envisioned that those challenges can be addressed soon.