Volocopter Expands UAM Networks
On Nov. 11, German eVTOL developer Volocopter conducted a flight demonstration at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea. During the crewed test, a Volocopter 2X eVTOL flew for five minutes, traveling 3 km (1.9 miles) at 28 mph (45 km/h) and an altitude of 164 ft (50 m). The test, which Volocopter said was the first ever crewed eVTOL flight in South Korea, was part of a government-backed urban air mobility (UAM) demonstration event; it comes as Volocopter is solidifying ties with South Korean partners.
Then, on Nov. 16, Volocopter conducted a second five-minute, crewed flight at Incheon Airport in Seoul. On Nov. 23, the company announced that it had partnered with Kakao Mobility, South Korea’s largest mobility platform company, to study the feasibility of UAM operations in the country. The two companies are expected to release the findings of the study in February 2022, with the expectation that it could provide the groundwork for the launch of commercial UAM services by 2025.
As with other leading eVTOL developers, Volocopter has lately emphasized the development of UAM infrastructure and services in parallel with that of its aircraft. On Oct. 27, Volocopter announced that it had partnered with Italy’s Atlantia and Aeroporti di Roma to raise public awareness about UAM and “bring it to Italy within the next 2–3 years,” according to a Volocopter press release. The company displayed the Volocopter VoloCity mockup in Rome’s Piazza San Silvestro on Nov. 2–4, and at the EUROPEAN ROTORS event in Cologne, Germany on Nov. 16–18 (see “Inaugural EUROPEAN ROTORS Reunites Vertical Flight Community,” Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2022, pg. 72).
On Dec. 3, Volocopter announced that it had established a joint venture company with Neom, a planned city in northwest Saudi Arabia, to develop a UAM network. The joint venture company, according to Volocopter, will be the sole operator of initial public transit routes in Neom and will develop an “ecosystem for vertical mobility services including logistics, emergency response, and tourism.” Neom confirmed an order for 15 Volocopter aircraft. According to SMG Consulting’s AAM Reality Index, Volocopter now has conditional orders totaling 265 aircraft.
On Dec. 9, Volocopter announced what it calls a handbook for the development of eVTOL infrastructure. In a statement, the company said that its VoloPort concept offers a blueprint for the vertiports that will support the public adoption and expansion of UAM services. To develop the VoloPort concept, Volocopter said it will work closely with various civil aviation authorities and architects.