Everyone, it seems, wants to get in on the fixed-wing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft act. We’ve seen concepts or prototypes from an airliner manufacturer (Airbus), a ride-sharing company (Uber), and even a luxury-car marque (Aston Martin, pictured above). The military was the first to recognize the benefits of planes that don’t need runways: more fighter jets on aircraft carriers, for example, and less real estate for air bases. More recently, the fixed-wing VTOL design has been embraced for civil applications, specifically as a means of transporting people into, around and out of cities crawling with automobile traffic. A recent study projects that the worldwide demand (by the public as well as the military and law enforcement agencies) for the convenience and efficiency of VTOLs will continue to rise, and so will the supply—of actual aircraft, not just concepts. It predicts that in the next 10 years the fixed-wing VTOL market will grow from $2 billion to $13.6 billion.
The VTOL designs from the aforementioned companies may become part of that market, as could many others. Continue on to have a look at some of the aircraft that someday could carry you around town and over traffic—or in one case, a few feet over water.