I spent some time digging down into flight industry. As someone who's immersed into AI/software, everything else looked stagnant except for the buzz about Uber's flying cars. So what is the state of art? Here're based on some of the things I researched.

Big Incumbents

Jumbo jets market is dominated by 2 giants: Boeing and Airbus.

It seems they are both furiously investing into making the planes eco-friendly and fuel efficient through new design.

That's followed by numerous smaller private jet market.

Startups Entering

Uber: Urban ride solutions

Aerion: developing supersonic jets in partnered with Boeing. It's been around since 2003 by Texas billionaire. Delivery starting in 2023. The first delivery of Aerion AS2 is meant to fly at 1720km/hr (close to double the current speed).

Boom Supersonic: Founded in 2014 backed by YC, the supersonic transport is to be coming in 2030. The supersonic plane is aiming 2300km/hour.

Virgin Galactic: They are also developing supersonic jet. It is still in the concept stage. They are aiming for Mach 3 jets leveraging their space technology.

Terrafugia: Founded in 2006, the goal was to make a flying car. It has a convertible wing and wheel that you can store inside the garage. It looks like it's losing steam today.

Eviation: electric plane. It seats 9 passengers. Founded in 2015, the first plane is expected to be delivered in 2023.

Ampaire: electric/hybrid plane. The delivery is expected to start  in 2021.

As you can see the aviation startups can be divided into 2: supersonic and electric. The supersonic is much more capital intensive and take a decade to complete while electric planes focus on private or regional jet market.

Word on Supersonic

Supersonic planes were the concept that originated from England and France in 1960s. It opened commercially in 1976 with little commercial success because of its loud sonic boom sound and fuel consumption (4x that of regular jets). The last supersonic planes finished in 2004 by Concord.

It is remarkable the startups are taking a challenge after 2 decades. The engineers said the new design can eliminate the sound.

And with the coming of supersonic, we will likely to see it come by 2030 in the business class. It will take another 20 years for the price to drop enough for ordinary economy class people to start appreciating the supersonic speed. We will be able to travel through San Francisco-Tokyo in 5 hours.

Great resources to learn more about aviation:

Aviation Today: blog site you can follow the latest industry news.

Mustard: Youtube channel that focuses on transportation technology. It dives into many of the old attempt such as Caproni's or Ekranoplans.