Robust environmental life cycle assessment of electric vtol concepts for urban air mobility

Nicolas André, Manfred Hajek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Under which scenario is Urban Air Mobility more sustainable than ground-based mobility? To answer this question, we provide a Life Cycle Assessment of three electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing concept aircraft, including a quantification of uncertainties in the concept’s material composition. We conduct a Cradle-to-Gate analysis of the concepts and extend it by a Well-to-Shaft analysis of Urban Air Mobility operation, including all relevant upstream greenhouse gas emissions due to battery use, again including input uncertainties. As for aviation systems in general, we show that the impact of power demand in operation is most significant and exceeds emissions from production by orders of magnitude. We thus provide sensitivity analyses of the results for each of the most influential quantities. We report an optimum flight speed for minimum greenhouse gas emissions and a quantification of the impact of hover flight. Finally, we compare and quantify the impact’s sensitivities on influential factors like the region of operation, and mission design within reasonable ranges. From the sensitivity analyses, we conclude that only very lightweight vehicles for Urban Air Mobility can be more sustainable than traditional, fossil-fueled ground-based transportation, given a maximum seat utilization, clean power grid, low hover share and an effective reduction in travel distance. We further conclude that, with a combination of the most optimistic assumptions, Urban Air Mobility concepts may environmentally compete with battery-powered cars.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781624105890
StatePublished - 2019
EventAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum - Dallas, United States
Duration: 17 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum


ConferenceAIAA Aviation 2019 Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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