Volocopter performs its first crewed public eVTOL flight in the US
As it aggressively pursues a future where flying taxis carry people and cargo between busy urban centers, German aviation startup Volocopter has ticked off an important milestone. At the Oshkosh air show in Wisconsin on Tuesday, the company sent its all-electric Volocopter 2X into the sky for a four-minute flight, successfully completing its first public crewed test flight of an eVTOL in the US.
Volocopter has been flying the many iterations of its 18-rotor all-electric aircraft for many years, following more than 100 uncrewed tests with the very first crewed flight in Germany in 2016. The company has since gone on to fly its aircraft in crewed and uncrewed flights over Singapore Bay and Dubai, and even lifted off momentarily onstage at CES in Las Vegas in 2018.
Tuesday's landmark flight took place at the Wisconsin's Wittman Regional Airport as part of Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2021. The Volocopter 2X, as this particular model is known, took off with a pilot on board to reach an altitude of 164 ft (50 m) and remained aloft for four minutes, reaching a top speed of 18 mph (29 km/h). A model of the company's VoloCity aircraft, meanwhile, was on display for attendees to safely check out on solid ground.
“Volocopter successfully conducting the first US public manned test flight of an eVTOL company in the US is a milestone for the industry and a reminder that our commercial launch is fast approaching," says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. "We can talk about our lead in certification, low noise emissions, and global partnerships all we want, but nothing shows just how close we are to launch UAM (urban air mobility) as a service as does flying an air taxi in front of crowds and inviting people to sit in our aircraft. Air taxis are coming, and we are working to bring electric flights to cities around the globe in the next two to three years.”
Volocopter has been building out its family of all-electric aircraft, adding a heavy-lift drone and more recently, a fixed-wing flyer named VoloConnect, which is designed for longer flights connecting city centers to outer suburbs. It is currently jumping through the many hoops needed for certification of commercial launch of its air taxi service in Europe and the US, and makes no bones about its aggressive timeline.
"Air taxis are coming, and we are working to bring electric flights to cities around the globe in the next two to three years,” says Reuter.
You can check out the flight below.
Editor's note (Jul 30, 2021): Although Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter describes this as the first public manned test flight of an eVTOL in the US, Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director of the Vertical Flight Society, has pointed out that this is incorrect, as Kitty Hawk flew its Flyer prototype at the same event in 2017. You can check their story on that flight here. Our article and headline have been updated to reflect this, and we apologize for the error.