For today’s #CrewStory, we spoke with Jörn Jaeger to find out all about his role on the VoloPort team. So, without further ado, let’s devle into the crucial work he’s doing to lay the groundwork for future vertiports.
Hi, Jörn. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself? What do you do here at Volocopter and what led you to the UAM pioneer?
Sure. I’m Head of Airspace and Vertiports here at Volocopter and I report to the Chief Risk and Certification Officer.
I’ve always been fascinated by aviation – in fact, I started by career by completing an apprenticeship as an aircraft mechanic. I then went on to study Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as International Transport, before working for a number of major companies invovled in international airport turnkey projects, and then in air traffic management (ATM).
Since joining Volocopter I assumed responsibility for airspace integration and all aspects related to vertiport design.
What are your primary tasks and projects?
As Head of Airspace and Vertiports, I’m in charge of everything related to airspace integration, and takeoff and landing sites for Volocopter aircraft. My team and I strive to ensure that our aircraft can actually move within the airspace as we’d like them to.
While that does sound fairly simple, it actually requires quite a lot of planning. After all, unlike commercial airliners, we aim to operate in the lower airspace above selected megacities across the globe. It’s also up to us to define and identify adequate takeoff and landing sites in these cities – be they at existing airports, heliports, or new spots (i.e., at our future vertiports) slap bang in the middle of these megacities.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us today, Jörn!
Speaking of vertiports: What makes Volocopter’s VoloPort so special?
The VoloPort is the result of a unique combination of three essential ingredients: one, the vertiport design expertise we have amassed over many years by working with regulators around the world, international standardization organizations, and industry bodies; two, our expertise in VTOL aircraft design and performance; and three, our knowledge of air operations, which will become the core of our business model. The VoloPort design is also based on the collaboration with recognized and world-leading architects, aviation planners, and heliport manufacturers, i.e., the Volocopter vertiport concept is state of the art and we are consistently working on making it extremely resilient.
What are the biggest benefits of the VoloPort compared to other vertiports?
The VoloPort is a solution we have tailored to one of the most demanding use cases: inner-urban passenger transportation. This factors in many different aspects found in aviation regulations, as well as modern architecture, a smooth and pleasant passenger journey, safe and efficient ground handling, a low carbon footprint, cost-efficiency, aircraft performance, and obstacles.
And though the VoloPort is an original Volocopter development, it is agnostic and highly flexible with regard to surfaces, elevated locations, geographic regions, aircraft types, and land size, so it can easily be scaled up or down in both number and size.
What would you say are the challenges of your job?
As we break new ground and set all-new standards, we also need to expand the existing aviation industry by contributing our new technology and ideas. Given the nature of our business, the challenge we face is often to first create an understanding among our partners of what our eVTOL aircraft, their design, and their intended purpose are, be it authorities or industry partners. What’s more, there are no solutions or regulations in place in many cases, as we are pioneering the UAM branch of aviation. So, while it’s immensely exciting to be a trailblazer, it can also be quite challenging at times.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
For me, the day usually begins with a team meeting, in which we identify any bottlenecks and coordinate our tasks for the day. This is followed by a similar meeting but at the team lead level. A typical day will then continue with meetings that focus on specific implementation issues, e.g., on our ground support equipment, the design and approval process for our VoloPort, vertiport or U-space rulemaking work with EASA, and calls with our partners in our target cities, where we are ramping up for commercial launch.
What made you join Volocopter? What excites you about the company’s vision?
Volocopter breaks new ground in so many walks of aviation, and that’s something to be proud of. I decided to join because I saw a unique opportunity to contribute my knowledge and experience in building the urban air ecosystem. From my first meeting with Volocopter, I was impressed by the kinds of people who work here, with their admirable vision and ambitious yet realistic goals.
The team spirit is another reason that keeps me firmly on board, and I believe the company’s core values are both important and present here. I also love the openness, diversity, internationality, and motivation in all our teams. For me, this is simply a great fit. \r\n\r\nCan you share any personal anecdotes from your tenure with Volocopter? \r\n\r\nI vividly remember the first public flight we conducted in downtown Singapore, at the 2019 ITS World Congress, not least of all due to the stellar collaboration with teams across the company, and with the local authorities. Before the flight itself, we ran a test flight a day prior using the exact route, which ran across the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. We ran this test flight right after sunrise, at around 6 a.m. As Singapore is a busy city with people on the roads at all hours, there were already quite a few people around – joggers, tourists, and businesspeople, for example. We flew almost alongside them and not one of them turned their heads to look at the aircraft. They didn’t expect it, and they didn’t hear it either. Could there be better proof that urban air mobility really can be integrated into the heart of our target launch cities?