We went. We tested. We’ll fly there for real. We announced our plans to launch electric air taxi services in multiple target megacities across the globe early on. Our overarching goal is still to see our VoloCity air taxi take to the skies (or, more specifically, the lower airspace) first, before any other UAM competitor flies an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft) commercially in the western hemisphere. In short: we want to do this in Paris by 2024. And we have every reason to succeed: our dedicated expert teams are putting their best foot forward and recent years have been peppered with progress-enabling milestones. Here’s the breakdown on how we’re making our Paris vision a reality – first.
Why having Volocopter in Paris by 2024 makes sense
Paris is a logical choice for Volocopter, the leading pre-revenue air taxi company, to launch its commercial services. Why? Well, for one, this densely populated capital is in pretty dire need of a solution to its public transportation woes, brought on by its considerable population. Plus, as a popular tourist destination the city also has to contend with a temporary (yet significant!) growth spurt during the year’s peak travel seasons. So, Volocopter is putting cities like Paris first. We believe that if we can make it in a city of this magnitude, launches in other target cities should follow like an expertly assembled domino line. That’s the theory, at least.
And here’s how we're putting that theory into practice. It’s no secret that we’ve partnered with the key public transportation authorities in Paris: Groupe ADP (Aéroports de Paris) and RATP (the city’s public transit operator and one of the nation’s largest transportation organizations). For the past 36-ish months, we’ve been working closely with both ADP and RATP to bring our plans for electric air taxis to life. This has paved the way for a two-year trial phase packed with test flights, route mapping, and coordination with these and other French authorities. Such a trial phase is key as we plan to initially launch small-scale operations. But, we also stand to gain valuable experience and feedback from both authorities and partners – a great way to enhance our operations on an ongoing basis.
On top of that, nearby airfield Pontoise-Cormeilles' highly acclaimed vertiport inauguration in November 2022 was another big win. The considerable media coverage this inauguration spawned proved that we’re clearly on track with our Paris launch plans. And the cherry on top? That’d be the firm backing of the Île-de-France regional council, with whom Volocopter inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) three years ago.
Oh yes, and we’ve notched up an additional commitment pledged by DGAC (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile – the French Civil Aviation Authority), further proof of its strong support for UAM, especially for our Pontoise-based activities.
The Volocopter 2X takes to the skies over Pontoise airfield
Public education campaign
Public acceptance in Paris is high up on Volocopter’s agenda, and after receiving the Franco-German Business Award in early ‘23, the only way to go seems to be up. But before we get to the champagne-popping, let’s review how we're redoubling our public education campaign efforts in the French capital to achieve this historic first.
(WARNING: EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT.) One of the planned aces up our sleeve are public flights at the 2023 Paris Air Show (19-25 June), where spectators will witness the low noise signature and zero in-flight emissions of the VoloCity air taxi firsthand. A VoloCity mockup will also be on display, giving visitors the chance to hop inside and imagine what it will be like to fly in a VoloCity air taxi post-launch.
Our Paris plans are further supported by a recent RATP-led study that looked at the low noise signature of eVTOLs – specifically Volocopter’s – alongside projected routes and future vertiport locations. The study shows that the VoloCity air taxi’s low noise, zero emissions, and clean lines have all the trappings of a service that will coalesce into a supplementary mode of transportation. Put simply, it certainly has the potential to relieve congestion, pollution, and other urban frustrations that commuters, tourists, and other future passengers regularly face in the French capital today.
The RATP study follows Volocopter’s own noise emission testing efforts in Pontoise, where a dedicated testing sandbox (featuring a vertiport built in collaboration with Skyports) has been the arena for much testing, with the Volocopter 2X prototype front and center. The noise campaign also included detailed market surveys, which enabled Volocopter to identify areas where greater public education efforts are needed. Volocopter has come a long way since its first crewed eVTOL flight in France in March 2022.
The next steps
At the time of writing, Volocopter is focusing on how to best integrate UAM into the city in a lasting way, exploring multiple routes to amass further knowledge with a view to operations scale-up. The ultimate goal? Network expansion in Paris and its surroundings.
It’s a race against time as Volocopter lays the groundwork ahead of its scheduled summer 2024 launch. Top of mind is sustained close collaboration with the relevant regulatory bodies, to ensure our eVTOLs are as safe as any other commercial aircraft in the sky. As a staunch supporter of our plans, the DGAC has been working with Volocopter to establish the relevant certification for our VoloCity air taxi in France.
Another focus is on trust-building with the Parisian authorities. And if recent Franco-German discussions with the Élysée Palace are any indication of our UAM future, things are definitely looking good.
While some unknowns do inevitably persist, the progress that Volocopter has made is staggering! What we can all appreciate already is UAM’s potential to enhance urban lifestyles in a meaningful and lasting way. We're getting ready to unleash the future in urban skies across the world. Will you join us?
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