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Volocopter e-volo VC400 (defunct)

e-volo VC400
Volocopter GmbH
Bruschal, Germany
www.volocopter.com

Volocopter GmbH was founded in 2011 in Karlsruhe, Germany by Alexander Zosel and Stephen Wolf with the intent of making an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) multicopter aircraft for fast and efficient urban travel. The company was known as “e-volo GmbH” until July 2017 and its name is now Volocopter GmbH. Volocopter announced in February 2020 that it had raised a total of €122 million (approx. $145M USD) since inception. 

In 2015, Volocopter received the “Climate Champion COP21” award at the Paris Climate Conference (held 30 November - 11 December 2015) in Paris, France, for the Volocopter. Also in 2015, the company stated the Volocopter is being designed to be flown with the option of being piloted drone, remotely, or autonomously, for passenger aircraft. For cargo aircraft, the Volocopters are being designed to be flown remotely or autonomously. The Volocopter is simple, safe and green. 

Volocopter's original plan, at the time, was to have a one, two and four seat eVTOL aircraft passenger models. In addition, the airframes for each of the passenger models would also be used as a base designs, for three different sized cargo-only eVTOL aircraft models as well. In total, they planned six Volocopter models, three passenger models and three cargo-only models.

One of the passenger models was called the e-volo VC400, an eVTOL multicopter, which would carry as many as four people autonomously or one pilot and three passengers, for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). This concept design never made into becoming a subscale or full scale prototype. However, this 18 propeller concept design shed its pusher propeller for forward flight and all later Volocopter models (as of 2020) continue to have the skid landing gear, instead of wheeled landing gear. 

The aircraft was to have four doors for passenger comfort and had one additional step on the landing skids for easy entry and exit from the aircraft. The VC400 was to have the option of an all battery power source or a hybrid-electric power plant. Volocopter has since decided to have an all battery power source for all its Volocopter models. The company imagined the VC400 for personal, commercial and governmental use, including land based travel and ship to shore travel. The aircraft is also very quiet for the passengers and people on the ground. 

One note. There is a animated video below, titled, "Mission Volocopter VC007" which Volocopter successfully used to convince their research and industrial partners of the vision of Volocopter at the start of their company in 2012. The concept shown in that video become a reality with the VC200 model. At the end of the video, it shows a single passenger Volocopter with a purple flotation device and a pusher propeller. 

Several benefits of the VC400 concept aircraft:

  • Easy to fly with a joystick
  • Autonomous flying if one chooses, no pilot skills necessary 
  • Safe to fly
  • Very efficient
  • Simple and reliable
  • Less failures than a petroleum powered aircraft
  • Less maintenance costs
  • Lower operational costs
  • Affordable and almost maintenance-free
  • Clean Aviation: No pollution, all electric
  • Much quieter than a helicopter, makes for a more pleasant ride and doesn't disturb people on the ground

In addition, in 2016, Volocopter boasted more than 100 microprocessors and other sensors. These sensors allow the aircraft to automatically read and adjust its position and altitude during normal flight, correct for pilot errors, compensate for turbulence and achieve stable flight in windy and gusty conditions, land safely even in an emergency, and take over many of the more complex steps involved in when compared to flying a helicopter.

Furthermore, since there are many small propellers (and not several large rotorblades), the cost of production, maintenance and noise goes rapidly down. At the same time, this reduces the weight of the aircraft which also increases the efficiency of the aircraft. Example, the aircraft can fly longer on less power because it is a lighter aircraft. The other advantage of small propellers and electric motors is lower noise.  

In the summer of 2012, the company was planning to make the VC400 production model for sale by 2015; however, this eVTOL concept design never made it to a prototype or production model, as far as we know. The company sees the use of their multicopters for UAM, recreation, farming, search and rescue, cargo, air taxi service and more.

For more information on the other aircraft developed by Volocopter, please see the following aircraft pages:

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL or hybrid-electric VTOL
  • Piloting: Pilot, remote or autonomous
  • Capacity: 4 passengers (including a pilot)
  • Propellers: 18
  • Electric Motors: 18
  • Flight time: Possibly 20 to 30 minutes
  • Windows: Front windows and door windows for good views.
  • Doors: 4 doors
  • Ground clearance to propeller assembly frame: 180 cm (5 feet, 11 inches)
  • Landing gear: Skid type landing gear, with a step for ease of entry and exit of the aircraft 
  • Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. There is also an aircraft parachute. Has automatic altitude control, automatic gentle landing, crosswinds and turbulence is automatically compensated for. Redundancy has been built into the aircraft so if one critical system breaks, there are other same exact systems so the aircraft can continue flying and safely land. 

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