Just 18 months lie between us and our target commercial launch. So, naturally, we want the best people to advance our technology as we bring urban air mobility (UAM) to life. One of those people is Sebastian Mores, our Chief Engineer for the VoloRegion and VoloDrone, who took the reins of our tech organization on 1 January 2023 as our new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He will be retaining his previous role and ensuring that our trio of aircraft (the VoloCity, VoloDrone, and VoloRegion) are full-fledged, market-ready solutions in time for their target launches, with the VoloCity scheduled for release in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Moreover, given his strong leadership skills and technological acumen, we have every reason to expect greatness from him, the entire team, and our aircraft.
Sebastian, thanks for catching up with us today. Can you tell us a bit about what brought you to the company and equipped you to lead a 100-strong team as Chief Engineer at our Volocopter Munich site?
I began my career in the Aeromechanics and Loads department at Airbus Helicopters, where I focused on computational fluid dynamics (CFD), aircraft performance & loads on various types of helicopters, but primarily on the H135 and H145 and their modifications. I then shifted to the Rotorcraft Architecture department to work on new development programs for helicopters with a mass of up to 7 tons. I subsequently helped to launch the CityAirbus project as part of a small team, starting from scratch.
Spending almost 10 years there taught me a great deal about aircraft development and design, which was invaluable when I decided to join Volocopter in October of 2018 as I believed it would be another chance to have a great experience creating companies from scratch, something I've done before. Looking at UAM through the eyes of a startup really allowed me to innovate – my raison d’être - and I've spent the past four years pushing the limits of what is possible for aircraft in this field while developing the Volocopter Munich site and new technologies, with a great team behind me every step of the way.
And what did you and your team achieve in these past four years?
What have we achieved to date? Well, in recent years we’ve set up an entire site for new technology development outside of the DOA. This laid the foundations for efficient technology development, and its demonstration and assessment. This includes everything from new flight control strategies and batteries to motors and complete aircraft development for crewed and uncrewed operations.
With a somewhat under-the-radar approach we developed a new type of aircraft in a very short space of time and are making excellent progress on ensuring our VoloRegion is as performant as possible – in particular in its aerodynamic efficiency as well as its overall performance. This will help us to achieve our market goals. Compared to our lift-to-drag ratio vis-à-vis legacy aircraft, we are doing very well in this area by focusing squarely on aerodynamic and propulsion system efficiency to ensure solid aircraft performance in time for the launch of our third aircraft. In fact, since the successful first flight of our VoloRegion last May – which we brought to life in a mere 18 months – my belief in our future-forward technologies has continued to grow, as has my faith in the solid and efficient team around me.
In a similar vein, the team will develop the next generation of the VoloDrone and VoloRegion almost simultaneously. This will allow us to leverage our experience and customer feedback to the greatest possible extent.
Comparable efforts can be seen across all three aircraft, in fact – after all, portfolio diversification is essential in our industry. Crucially, all three aircraft share technologies, which enables fantastic cross-departmental synergies. That’s key as we ramp up for commercial launch.
So, why do you believe in our future-forward technologies, and what makes you the person to take our aircraft to market?
I am well aware of the challenge we’ve set ourselves, but at the same time I fully believe in the feasibility of our mission. A customer-centric approach, a high level of innovation in a new environment, and an unprecedented business case comprise one critical aspect we must respect to succeed as an industry and as a company.
Innovation is something that runs through my veins, and it’s the lifeblood of all my colleagues across Volocopter, too. I believe our development approach to the task at hand is exemplary, and our combined ability to think outside the box regularly gets things done.
My team’s vision is certainly ambitious, but I believe that we have both the experience and technological expertise to achieve our goals. Our vision is to develop quickly, through rapid prototyping that is embedded in our holistic market approach. In so doing, we will first predict and subsequently identify market demands while developing next-generation aircraft. This is a staggered approach for quick market entry with a constant output of synchronized technology and aircraft development.
I have every reason to expect that Volocopter has a bright future. This belief has not wavered in almost five years of service to the company, and I don't even see a faint glimmer of doubt today. Despite an increasingly challenging market environment, I am sure that we, Volocopter, have what it takes to bring UAM to life.
Thank you for your inspirational insights, Sebastian. We can’t wait to watch the rest of our journey to commercial launch unfold!