Volocopter and Skyports, Ltd. announced May 23 that they were cooperating to build the first mobile eVTOL landing pad. UK-based global heliport owner and operator Skyports and Germany-based Volocopter unveiled plans with “stunning designs produced by internationally renowned agency Brandlab.” Construction of the first Volo-Port will be completed in Singapore later this year for the scheduled Volocopter public flight trials. According to the press release, the Volo-Port prototype will “Enable real-life testing of the full customer journey to perfect the passenger experience; Showcase planned customer services, including pre-flight checks, passenger lounges and boarding procedures; Allow practical testing of ground operations and services, including battery swaps and charging, maintenance, safety and security; Provide the opportunity for authorities and industry regulators to interact with the infrastructure and provide feedback before they are asked to approve the final design.”
Volocopter announced on Oct. 18, 2018, that it would be testing its eVTOL (whether the VC200 or 2X was not revealed) in Singapore next year. The flight tests are designed to verify the ability of Volocopter’s eVTOL vehicles to operate in Singapore’s urban environment. The tests will take place in the second half of 2019, supported by Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and Economic Development Board. Volocopter and CAAS will work together to establish the scope of the flight trials and ensure that the necessary requirements are met before flight tests are allowed to commence. In addition to the flight tests, Volocopter will be setting up a product design and engineering team in Singapore to support its expansion plans. The company is also looking for real-estate developers, mobility providers and businesses to join the effort to enable air taxis in Singapore. The company stated: “The Volocopter is designed specifically for inner city missions. It features an extremely stable flight allowing it to maneuver micro turbulences around skyscrapers, thus offering a smooth ride for passengers. It is so quiet that at a flight height of 100 m, it cannot be heard over the typical background noise of a city.” Source: Volocopter to Test its Electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Air Taxis in Singapore, Volocopter press release, Oct. 2018
VC1/VC2 Volocopter GmbH (originally e-volo GmbH until July 2017) Karlsruhe, Germany www.volocopter.com The Volocopter VC1 utilized sixteen individual rotors for up to 20 minutes of flight. The multicopter weighs 80 kg (176.4 lb) and has a 5 m by 5 m profile (16.4 ft by 16.4 ft). e-volo co-founder Thomas Senkel was the primary designer, inventor and builder of the VC1 and VC2; he also flew the VC1 for the first time on October 21, 2011, making it the first flight of a manned electric multirotor. This flight lasted only 90 seconds, but served its purpose as the prototype to later Volocopter models like the Volocopter VC200 and Volocopter 2X. The Volocopter VC1 was succeeded by the Volocopter VC2, which was an unmanned demonstrator that featured 18 propellers instead of 16. Its body consisted of a tetrahedron/octahedron aluminum truss frame with a central seat for test payloads. All struts were equal with 1 m length; there are two types of nodes: regular and with the motor mounting plate. The VC2 debuted in 2012 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This Buckminster Fuller-inspired design was chosen so that everything would fit into a small box that could be easily shipped (e.g. to Oshkosh). The frame was very lightweight and rigid. The pilot’s seat was a paraglider harness with back protection. e-volo made some radio controlled test flights with the VC2, but no manned flights. Note: The company was known as “e-volo GmbH” until July 2017. Resources: Search eVTOL news posts Company press releases Website: Manned first flight writes aviation history Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017 Article: It’s official, It’s a Volocopter Video (VC2), Sustainable Skies, July 16, 2012 Article: E-Volo VC1 Volocopter has 16 rotors, flies over rush hour traffic, recombu, May 8, 2012 Video: World’s first manned flight with an electric multicopter, forschungsbuero, November 20, 2013 Tags: Volocopter, Wingless (Multicopter), Defunct, Flight Testing, 1 Passenger, Electric/Batteries, Piloted, VFS Member
2X Volocopter GmbH Karlsruhe, Germany www.volocopter.com The Volocopter 2X is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing multicopter that is a refined version of the VC200, with a limited number of pre-production prototypes now under development for future sale. The 2X is completely electric and quieter than the smallest helicopter by a factor of 7. It has six Y shaped struts emanating from its axle. The intersection of each Y has a vertical non-tilting propeller and 12 more are at the ends of the struts which is reinforced with a perimeter ring. These 18 propellers and 3-phase PM synchronous brushless DC electric motors are powered by nine batteries. The vehicle weighs 640 lbs (290 kg) and can carry a two passenger payload of 350 lb (160 kg). It has demonstrated an endurance 0f 27 minutes of flight for a range of 17 miles (27 km). It has a cruise speed of 55 kt (100 k/hr). It is 10.5 ft (3.2 m) long, 7 feet (2.15 m) high and has a tip-to-tip distance of 30 ft (9.15 m). Autonomous flight is possible. The aircraft has a single joystick and is intuitive to fly. If the joystick is released automatic systems keep it in a stable position. Systems include fiber optic fly-by-wire. It also has an emergency ballistic parachute. The 2X is designed for urban mobility and Volocopter envisions units being called as simply as using an app. In 2016 it was the first multicopter given manned flight certification. Its first unmanned flight was in September 2017 and its first manned flight in January 2018 allowing Volocopter to claim this as the world’s first 2-seat electric VTOL aircraft. The program is supported by Intel’s Ascending Technologies, Daimler AG, DG Flugzeugbau GmbH and others. Volocopter was known as “e-volo GmbH” until July 2017. Volocopter Characteristics (updated April 2017) Specification 2X Fuselage length 10.5 ft 3.2 m Overall height 7 ft 2.15 m Tip-to-tip distance 30 ft 9.15 m Empty weight 640 lb 290 kg Max gross takeoff wt 990 lb 450 kg Useful load 350 lb 160 kg Cruise speed 55 kt 100 km/h Propulsors 18 propellers Motor type 3-phase PM synchronous motor, brushless DC electric motor (BLDC) Power type electric/batteries Passenger capacity 2 First Flight (unmanned) September 2017 First Flight (manned) January 2018 Resources: Search eVTOL news posts Website: Volocopter 2X Website: Volocopter 2X Specifications Press Releases: Company press releases Article: Remote-piloted Volocopter eVTOL Flies Intel CEO, AIN Online, January 9, 2018 Article: Volocopter 2X: An Autonomous Flying Taxi In Flight At CES 2018 In Las Vegas For The First Time, Inquistr, January 8, 2018 Article: e-volo’s 2X Ready for Production, eVTOL News, May 2, 2017 Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017 Video: Volocopter’s flying taxi takes …
Volocopter Gains Momentum Bruchsal, Germany-based Volocopter (previously known as “e-volo GmbH”) has continued its series of stunning announcements. The company, which made the world’s first manned multicopter flight in March 2016 with its VC200 eVTOL demonstrator, is preparing to fly its next aircraft, the pre-series 2X multicopter. The first 2X is complete and the second 2X is in fabrication. In June, Volocopter revealed that it would be flying its VC200 in Dubai. With funding from the government’s Roads and Transport Authority, testing will start in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the project will run for five years. The company announced on Aug. 1 that it had agreed to a finance deal worth more than €25M ($29M) with automaker Daimler in Stuttgart, the technology investor Lukasz Gadowski in Berlin, and other investors.
VC200 Volocopter GmbH Karlsruhe, Germany www.volocopter.com The Volocopter VC200, with 18 non-tilting propellers, made its first unmanned flight in November 2013. Its first manned flight was March 30, 2016; Volocopter claimed this as the world’s first 2-seat electric VTOL aircraft. The aircraft is designed for up to 100 km/h (54 kt) and demonstrated a speed of 69 km/h (37 kt) in July 2016. The program is supported by Intel’s Ascending Technologies, DG Flugzeugbau GmbH and others. The Volocopter 2X is a refined next generation version of the VC200, with a limited number of pre-production prototypes now under development for future sale. Note: The company was known as “e-volo GmbH” until July 2017. Volocopter Characteristics (updated April 2017) Resources: Search eVTOL news posts Company press releases Article: e-volo’s 2X Ready for Production, eVTOL News, May 2, 2017 Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017 Video: Volocopter VC200 First Flight, forschungsbuero, November 20, 2013 Tags: Volocopter, Wingless (Multicopter), Flight Testing, 2 Passengers, Electric/Batteries, Autonomous, VFS Member
The e-volo VC200 Volocopter The World’s First Certified Multicopter By AHS Staff Vertiflite, May-Jun 2016 (e-volo photo by Nikolay Kazakov) Karlsruhe, Germany-based e-volo GmbH conducted the first flight of its VC200 Volocopter on March 30 at nearby Bruchsal Airfield. After receiving its “Permit to Fly” as an ultralight aircraft in February, e-volo called its VC200 “the world’s first certified Multicopter.” Technical Description The Volocopter is made of lightweight composite fiber material and runs on nine independent batteries, powering 18 electric motor-driven variable-speed/fixed-pitch propellers. The redundancy ensures stability in the event of component failures. Control about the roll and pitch axes are produced by differential variation of motor speeds across the propeller plane, while yaw control is via appropriate combinations of motor torques. Collective speed/thrust is used to control altitude. In combination with tilting the aircraft thrust plane, the VC200 is able to control flight in all six rotational and translational degrees of freedom. The triplex-redundant flight control system comprises several completely independent units, each containing a complete set of positioning sensors, including pressure gauges, gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers, for all three spatial axes. The VC200 is operated with one hand, using a joystick: the pilot controls all flight axes through rotational movements of the joystick’s axes. Up/down commands are given through an altitude control thumb button. To land, the pilot presses and holds the button down until the aircraft is on the ground; once it nears the ground, the control system automatically slows down the Volocopter to ensure a gentle landing. Flight Testing Following testing of previous models and subsystems, the VC200 was first flown unmanned in November 2013 in the 12,500 m² (129,000 ft2) indoor “dm-arena” in Karlsruhe. Remote-controlled outdoor testing commenced in November 2015, and more than 100 flights were made to receive the unrestricted German Permit to Fly. Using the remote control unit, e-volo conducted extensive tests on the entire system, as well as individual modules and components. Failures were simulated by shutting down components — including propulsion motors, batteries and flight controls — in flight; erroneous data from “defective” sensors were also fed into the flight control system. The VC200 is designed for flights at 100 km/h (54 kt), an altitude of 2 km (6,500 ft), a maximum take-off weight of 450 kg (1,000 kg), and more than an hour of flight time. The first flight, conducted by e-volo managing director Alexander Zosel, marks the first phase of the Volocopter manned test program, which will conduct low altitude flights up to 25 km/h (13.5 kt). Next, flight maneuvers at a speed of 50 km/h (27 kt) at medium altitude will be executed. The third testing phase aims to validate the system at higher altitudes and across the full speed range. e-volo says the next goal is “to receive a …
The Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom has launched a new virtual space in which new technology can be safely tested — the “Innovation Sandbox.” It is initially funded by a grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which has launched the Innovation Sandbox with six participants. Five companies — Altitude Angel, Amazon, NATS and Searidge Technologies, NBEC Consortium, and Nesta Challenges — are focused primarily on drones, artificial intelligence and airspace management. The sixth company is Volocopter. The Sandbox offers companies the chance to discuss, explore, trial and test emerging concepts, to help the UK’s aviation sector develop. The CAA said its innovation team will work closely with the participants to help them understand how they can meet regulatory requirements and that the “Innovation Sandbox will allow for the creation of world-first technologies, tried and tested in a safe environment.”
The Electric VTOL Industry Shifts Gears By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite May/June 2019 A VFS panel and other discussions at Heli-Expo provided an opportunity for the commercial helicopter operating community to ask some tough questions about eVTOL technology. For the second year in a row, the Vertical Flight Society organized a panel discussion at Heli-Expo to brief the civil helicopter industry and operators on electric- and hybrid-electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft opportunities and challenges. When the eVTOL industry was born a few years ago, it was imaginative aircraft concepts developed by start-up aircraft makers that first captured the attention of the public and popular press outlets. In early 2019, the spotlight shifted from eVTOL start-ups to major aerospace manufacturers and suppliers now heavily investing in eVTOL/Urban Air Mobility (UAM) technology to meet future market needs, including Airbus, Bell, Boeing, Honeywell, Safran, Sikorsky and Thales. All these companies have the talent and resources required to design, build, flight test, certify and support fleets of safe and reliable eVTOL aircraft for UAM missions. This strong commitment to eVTOL development was on display at Heli-Expo where the Bell Nexus mock-up was swarmed by rotorcraft operators, Safran and Honeywell prominently displayed their respective hybrid-electric power systems alongside conventional turboshaft engines, and SureFly became the first company to display an actual flying eVTOL aircraft at the annual tradeshow. The Electric VTOL Revolution The Vertical Flight Society’s second annual panel on “The Electric VTOL Revolution” at Heli-Expo featured strong representation from the helicopter industry, with Elan Head of Vertical magazine moderating the discussion. Vertical also provided promotional and sponsorship support. This year’s panel speakers were Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director of the VFS; Scott Drennan, VP Innovation at Bell; Zach Lovering, VP of Urban Air Mobility Systems at Airbus; Thierry Grison, VP Business Development, Hybrid New Market at Safran; Danny Sitnam, President and CEO of Helijet International; Rex Alexander, President of Five-Alpha LLC; and Michael Dyment, managing partner of NEXA Capital Partners. VFS livestreamed the panel and the entire nearly two-hour discussion (including presentations) which can be found via Society’s Video Library webpage: www.vtol.org/videos. VFS Leadership Reflecting on the Vertical Flight Society’s six years of work nurturing electric VTOL development, Executive Director Mike Hirschberg opened the discussion by saying that the eVTOL revolution “is going to really happen. It’s not ‘if’ but ‘when.’ There is lots of technical rigor behind what is going on; it’s not a lot of glossy pictures.” Hirschberg said that distributed electric propulsion (DEP) on VTOL aircraft can obviate the mechanical complexity of a helicopter and has the potential to significantly reduce operating costs and external noise. Despite the much lower energy density of batteries compared to liquid hydrocarbons, an eVTOL aircraft with a wing can potentially fly farther and faster than …
Volocopter GmbH and Fraport AG (the manager of Frankfurt Airport) are developing concepts for ground infrastructure and operations required for air taxi services at airports. This cooperation focuses on smooth passenger handling and efficient integration into existing transport infrastructure. In the future, Voloports could link existing urban transportation junctions with one another and provide connections to and from Frankfurt Airport. Meanwhile, German rescue organization ADAC Luftrettung will be conducting computer simulations and test flights of Volocopters as air shuttles for emergency doctors. The first results showing the potential usability and the cost-effectiveness of such aircraft in emergency medical services are planned for the autumn/winter of 2019.