“Urban air vehicles” have been hailed as the next revolution in aviation. Prototypes of various sizes have been flown to demonstrate basic flight (hover and climb), but in most cases there is no demonstration of full flight capability, for example conversion from vertical to level flight (conversion corridor). There are proposals for vehicles in a wide range of scales: from drones specifically designed to deliver goods, to full size vehicles for manned transportation. Most of the concepts proposed include full electric propulsion, multiple (often convertible) rotors (ducted or un-ducted, counter-rotating), and widespread use of composite materials. Start-up companies are seeking funding with high-profile demonstrations in front of the media, but many unresolved technical problems are not been solved. Large aerospace companies have joined the fray. These initiatives are fuelling expectations that achieving the next milestone is within easy reach. This paper aims to fill some gaps in understanding and curb optimism. It takes a holistic view in order to establish a scientific basis for design, manufacturing, operations.