The Volocopter test aircraft, which resembles a large drone with eight rotors, took off from the Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield outside Paris with a passenger on board and briefly circled around while other aircraft were nearby.
Dirk Hoke, CEO of the German company Volocopter, stated that his company will prepare its craft for certification in the next 18 months and that he hopes to launch short commercial flights by 2024, when Paris will host the Summer Olympic Games.
The company hopes that its two-seater aircraft will eventually fly fully autonomously with only passengers aboard, but admits that much work remains to be done in terms of infrastructure, airspace integration, and public acceptance.
The craft’s digital fly-by-wire system and multiple rotors, according to test pilot Paul Stone, make it much easier to fly than a traditional helicopter.
“In a helicopter, when you move one control, three things happen, and it’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy – it’s a coordination exercise. In this aircraft, they take away all that difficulty, and it’s very simple controls in each axis, that’s what makes it easier to fly,” he said.
Valérie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region surrounding Paris, stated that the region has provided financial support for the initiative because she wants the first passenger flight in a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to take place in the region.
“The development of low-altitude aviation for urban air mobility is an adventure full of promises,” she said in a statement.
Volocopter is competing against companies from around the world, including Lilium, Joby Aviation, and Airbus, to be the first flying taxi to be certified by regulators. It hopes to accomplish this in about two years.
To read our blog on “The 12-minute helicopter flight, which costs Rs. 9,080, is being offered by Air Taxi to help Indians avoid traffic,” click here