Aircraft

Electric air taxi could take to the Paris skies in time for the Olympics

Electric air taxi could take t...
If all goes to plan, VoloCity eVTOLs could be another thrilling addition to the skies above Paris
If all goes to plan, VoloCity eVTOLs could be another thrilling addition to the skies above Paris
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The VoloCity air taxi will undergo testing at the Pontoise airfield from mid-2021
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The VoloCity air taxi will undergo testing at the Pontoise airfield from mid-2021
The 18-rotor all-electric VoloCity is designed to carry two occupants
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The 18-rotor all-electric VoloCity is designed to carry two occupants
The VoloCity has a per charge range of 35 km, and a top speed of 110 km/h
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The VoloCity has a per charge range of 35 km, and a top speed of 110 km/h
If all goes to plan, VoloCity eVTOLs could be another thrilling addition to the skies above Paris
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If all goes to plan, VoloCity eVTOLs could be another thrilling addition to the skies above Paris
Officials from Paris Region, ADP Group, RATP Group and Volocopter at the launch of the urban air mobility test project at Pontoise airfield
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Officials from Paris Region, ADP Group, RATP Group and Volocopter at the launch of the urban air mobility test project at Pontoise airfield
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Innovation hub Paris Region, airport operator ADP and urban transport operator RATP are eyeing the development of an urban air mobility branch ahead of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, and have joined forces with German air taxi startup Volocopter to make it happen.

That branch will start with a new air mobility test area at the Pontoise airfield near Cormeilles-en-Vexin to the northwest of Paris, with work starting in the first half of next year.

As a first step in the setup process, the collaboration has put out a call for expressions of interest from international manufacturers and equipment suppliers, energy companies and vertiport designers, operations support firms, research institutes and laboratories, and specialists in unmanned air traffic management or digital platforms. Selected projects will be announced on December 18.

The first industrial partner for the project has already been announced though. Volocopter, which has been flying since 2011 and has already notched up successful test flights in Singapore, Helsinki and Dubai, will test its VoloCity all-electric flyer at the new facility.

The VoloCity air taxi will undergo testing at the Pontoise airfield from mid-2021
The VoloCity air taxi will undergo testing at the Pontoise airfield from mid-2021

This eVTOL is already licensed for commercial operations by the European Aviation Safety Agency, has a per charge range of 35 km (22 mi) from its nine swappable Li-ion battery packs, and can get up to a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph).

It stands 2.5 m (8.2 ft) high, with a 9.3-m (30.5-ft) diameter rotor rim up top that's home to 18 rotors. Multiple redundancy systems, including rotors, motors, batteries and avionics, ensure safe operation.

"We are incredibly excited to be the eVTOL manufacturer of choice in the Paris region’s Urban Air Mobility project," said Volocopter's CEO, Florian Reuter. "We will open our first commercial air taxi routes in the next 2-3 years and are excited to have a potential launching partner here in Europe."

By June 2021, the project will look to real-world testing of parking, takeoff and landing operations, as well as eVTOL support such as maintenance or battery charging. It is eventually hoped to have some sort of service in operation in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, to complement existing passenger or cargo transport solutions.

Source: Volocopter

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7 comments
Graeme S
I just don't get it, helicopters have been around for a long time, they have a safety record, and a known performance, they have a back up in that they can safely autorotate, just make them run on electricity, a hybrid system with an IEMD3 motor and there you have it, safe, known, and electric! Why reinvent the wheel?
michael_dowling
"Why reinvent the wheel?" Because of global warming,and likely this electric is quite a bit quieter than a gas turbine chopper. The Volocopter can stay up if several motors fail,and I recall it has a whole frame emergency chute in case everything else fails. H2 powered fuel cells are being developed that could greatly expand it's range. 22 miles ain't all that much. https://www.zdnet.com/article/first-hydrogen-powered-aircraft-takes-flight-in-major-breakthrough-for-the-industry/
mediabeing
If it's open prop, it's stupid. Just saying.
Towerman
Exactly Michael and in Addition, no complex mechanical linkages and gearboxes thats on helicopters that is ever so prone to maintenance, on this Electric evtol, simply replace bearings ! A newly fresh age has been born !

@mediabeng, With that argument then helicopters is at the extreme end of stupid ! YET they are allowed to fly ;)
Nelson Hyde Chick
These things are going to be loud, so the poor masses get to be annoyed by the wealthy.
Graeme S
I am all for electric, that is why l mentioned what we need is an electric helicopter with known performance, cost and safety, what we currently do not have is an electric motor that can direct drive the rotor, and that is where the EMD3 comes in it is a new electric motor that replaces the mechanical drive-line and the mechanical gearbox, so all the complexity, and the parts that give the most trouble, are gone, so then where is the advantage of the multi rotor designs, which are nowhere as efficient as a single rotor. All that we need is an investor.
Towerman
@NHC A turbine helicopter is already loud so the one does not have an advantage over the other in this respect.

@Graeme
I would love to see direct drive electric helicopters fly, the helicopter should never ever die,
You still have linkages and a tail gearbox on a heli which is complex and wear prone, though at least the tailbox could also be replaced by an electric motor as was demonstrated already a while ago. but the helicopter can't replace the multirotor for its specific tasks.

Both Multirotor and Electric helicopters direct drive, would fill their own respective Niche's. And there is demand for both so there will not be a problem.

The Volocopter have been flying for over 5 years, so the performance have been steadily tested and is known. The ease of maintenance is superior to helicopters even if the helicopter is direct drive electric, the head is still complicated.

Autorotation is known to be a hit or miss, so thats not 100% safe. Multirotors have redundancy so that puts it on par if not better with helicopter auto rotation safety record which is not perfect.
It's a technology that will become mainstream just as any certified aviation vehicle today.