The Future of Transportation Might Involve a Lot More Rooftop Landings

You're going to be hearing a lot more about eSTOLs in the near future

Metro Hop
A rendering of Metro Hop's planned passenger plane.
Metro Hop

If you’ve delved deeply enough into the history of transportation, or that of New York City, you may have seen an image of a zeppelin docked at the Empire State Building. As it turns out, the photograph in question is a composite, and while the idea of boarding zeppelins from one of New York’s most iconic buildings was discussed, it never came to fruition. But it turns out that a new generation of aerial vehicles might make urban rooftops a prime takeoff location nearly a century after the heyday of zeppelins.

Writing at Robb Report, Daniel Bachmann provided a compelling overview of the growing field of eSTOL aircraft. STOL is an acronym for “short takeoff and landing,” which amounts to an aircraft that doesn’t need much in the way of a runway. The “e” reflects the power source — in this case, electric.

Among the companies discussed in the article is Airflow, who are presently working on an aircraft that would require 150 feet of space to take off — as opposed to the more traditional 300. Bachmann notes that eSTOL aircraft are also more efficient in their energy usage than their electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) counterparts.

The eSTOL space involves a host of striking designs and technological innovations. Some of the companies involved might be conveying cargo in the future, while others will transport people. Urban skies might be getting a bit more crowded in the coming years.

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