Volocopter performs South Korea's first crewed air taxi flight
Volocopter's ambitions in the flying taxi space have taken another step forward, with the startup's electric aircraft performing its first crewed flight in South Korea. This also marks the country's first demonstration of a crewed eVTOL aircraft, as it eyes a proper lift-off for a commercial air taxi service a few years down the track.
This latest jaunt for the Volocopter, featuring its 2X aircraft, follows a long line of test flights for the German outfit, which include crewed outings in Singapore Bay in 2019 and in the US earlier this year. Many uncrewed test flights have also taken place since the Volocopter popped up as a crowdfunded project back in 2013, but this latest test flight is just the second in Asia with people onboard, as the company ramps up its operations in the region.
The flight took place at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul on Thursday, with the Volocopter 2X rising to an altitude of 50 m (164 ft), covering a distance of around 3 km (1.86 miles) and hitting a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph). The five-minute flight was part of an event conducted by South Korea's Ministry for Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), called "Open the Urban Sky," as the country moves to position itself at the forefront of the flying taxi industry.
“With MOLIT’s comprehensive K-UAM (urban air mobility) roadmap, South Korea is well positioned to achieve the goal of commercializing UAM by 2025," says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. "We are extremely honored to conduct the nation’s first crewed public eVTOL test flight today and prove yet again that the future of air taxis is here and now with Volocopter’s aircraft. As the pioneers of the UAM industry, we look forward to working closely with friends and partners from both the government agencies and private sectors to make UAM a reality in South Korea.”
Volocopter established an office in Singapore back in 2018 ahead of its public test flight the following year, and has also teamed up with ridesharing company Grab to conduct a feasibility study on high-potential routes between megacities in Southeast Asia. Another test flight is scheduled to take place at Seoul's Incheon International Airport as part of Korea's K-UAM conference on November 16.
You can check out the Gimpo Airport test flight below.