The concept of air taxis is becoming more and more of a reality, with Paris’s Re.Invent Air Mobility tests being a major push to make the technology a reality. While testing the electric vertical takeoff and landing craft, the Volocopter Volocity 2X, their potential to be certified to carry passengers has become more likely. Despite all the complexity in making this happen, the hope is that a network of sites such as the ones be found at the Pontoise Aerodrome will be the foundation of a new form of transportation.
Skyports, the UK-based company that’s aiding in the development of the project in partnership with Groupe ADP, the operator of Paris’ airports, is playing a major role in leading the vertiport plan to fruition. The idea is to have a fleet of ten Volocopter aircrafts shuttle passengers between the two international airports, the Quai d’Austerlitz in the central city, the Issy-les-Moulineaux heliport, and the Saint-Cyr l’École airfield near Versailles. With the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, this could be the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for a regional service.
It still remains to be seen if these grand plans will be viable, as the certification process is long and expensive. Additionally, the economics of such a service remain to be seen; though Volocopter’s design is slower and smaller than some competitors, it is much simpler, making it easier for certification and maintenance. Though flights will only be able to hold two passengers, with the advantages and experience of being the first to operate, the potential of the service could be great and the underlying technology could be applied elsewhere afterwards.
The CEO of Volocopter, Dirk Hoke, hopes to move ahead with plans to operate in Rome and Singapore in 2024, and in Japan and Saudi Arabia in 2025. Another big figure in the development of the project is aerospace consultant Sergio Cecutta, who believes that all the pieces have to be put together in order for it to be successful.
For the moment, the plans are ambitious, but still remain possible; the potential of this form of transportation is already exciting millions of people around the world. With players like Skyports, Groupe ADP, Volocopter, and Sergio Cecutta all working together, the success of Paris’ air taxi stations could come before the taxi’s themselves.