Estimated reading time 9 minutes, 40 seconds.
We can’t wrap up 2021 without carrying on the tradition of highlighting the top stories of the year. Not only did we have some high-performing articles this year, but some of the stories that made it on the list also win the award for being the most read stories that the site has ever seen since its official launch in June 2019. Below are our top 10 most popular stories of the year measured by page views.
Earlier this year, we took a look at the batteries that would power Lilium’s seven-seat eVTOL Lilium Jet and allow it to carry out its business model of performing 20 to 25 flights per day, covering 60 to 75 miles (95 to 120 kilometers) at a time. To execute such trips, Lilium confirmed that its Jet will have a total of 72 fully interchangeable battery modules — or two for each of the 36 ducted fans — distributed across 12 packs that will work in parallel to supply the required power.
In April, Vermont-based Beta Technologies secured a deal with UPS that would allow the parcel delivery company to purchase up to 150 of its eVTOL to transport time-sensitive packages. The company expects to receive its first 10 aircraft from Beta in 2024. The deal with UPS was the third major customer for Beta up to that point — the eVTOL developer also had contracts with United Therapeutics and the U.S. Air Force.
German eVTOL developer Lilium made two major announcements in March — confirming its plan to go public through a business combination with Qell Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), and revealing its new seven-seat Lilium Jet. At the time, the company expected the merger to result in $830 million in total gross proceeds, but when the deal closed in September, Lilium saw just $584 million in gross proceeds after around 65% of Qell shareholders chose to redeem their shares.
In February, Joby Aviation shared more details about its plan to merge with Reinvent Technology Partners (RTP). The Santa Cruz-based company ended up being the first major eVTOL developer to go public via SPAC in August. Joby said the proceeds of the merger would pay for the company’s aircraft certification, manufacturing facilities, and commercialization, which it expects to achieve by 2024.
Beta Technologies reached a new milestone in March when it flew its fully electric airplane between two separate airports — from its primary test location in Plattsburgh, New York, across Lake Champlain to the company’s headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. That was just one of a number of achievements for Beta at that time. The Alia-250 prototype also reached an altitude of 8,000 feet, and set a new personal best in range.
In January, Ark Invest announced it would be launching a new investment fund to primarily hold publicly-traded companies related to space exploration, including suborbital aerospace technologies such as drones and electric aircraft. EHang, one of the few publicly-traded eVTOL companies at that time, saw its stock jump after the ArkX fund was announced.
4. Archer to go public at $3.8 billion valuation, United Airlines orders $1 billion worth of eVTOL aircraft
Earlier this year, Archer Aviation made two major announcements that brought the eVTOL developer to fourth place in our top 10 stories of 2021. The air taxi developer announced it planned to go public through a SPAC deal with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. Archer also secured a strategic partnership with United Airlines that would see an equity investment and an order for $1 billion worth of the Maker aircraft. The company completed its business combination in September, ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
3. Joby Aviation to announce $5.7 billion SPAC deal, Lilium and others to follow in banner month for eVTOL industry
Our third most read story of 2021 is yet another SPAC story published in February. In this article, we highlight the deals that Joby Aviation, Lilium, and Archer Aviation were planning that would see them go public later in the year. The articles we covered on SPAC deals in February resulted in a record number of page views for eVTOL.com at that time.
Last month, Bellwether Industries graduated from a year of indoor tethered flights, achieving its first test flight for its two-seat Volar eVTOL aircraft. The eVTOL is designed to be a compact vehicle for the private urban aircraft market. This article also wins the award for the highest number of comments for any story that eVTOL.com has ever published.
In our highest performing story of 2021, Alex Scerri takes us to Texas A&M University to share some of the findings from the school’s academic research study on the cyclocopter aircraft concept. This story alone attracted more attention than what the entire website sees in a typical month, and also contributed to the site’s new record number of page views in a month. It’s a great achievement for an article that was only just published on Dec. 9.