Fraport & Volocopter set about air taxi infrastructure
Volocopter, and Fraport AG – the owner and manager of FRA, Germany’s biggest airport, intend to develop concepts for the ground infrastructure and the operation of electric aerial taxis at airports. The main focus will be on smooth passenger handling and efficient connections to existing traffic infrastructure.
Both will be investigated using a Volo port as an example. According to Volocopter, these could connect nodes in cities with each other in future – examining a connection from and to Frankfurt Airport is a logical extension.
In order to be able to paint a better picture, reference should be made to our report from April 2018, which deals with Volocopter’s planned concept for the infrastructure of its urban electric air taxis. In it, the company speaks of ‘Volo hubs‘ and ‘Volo ports’. The former are similar to gondola stations where volocopters can land and take off every 30 seconds. After landing, the Volocopter is transported inside the Volo hub and passengers can disembark, while protected from wind and weather. Batteries are exchanged automatically so that the Volocopter can start again soon after. Volo ports, on the other hand, do not require charging and park infrastructure they “offer direct access to a company, shopping mall, hotel or train station for example. They do not require any charging or parking infrastructure and subsequently will be less complex to build,” the company said at the time. A normal heliport can also serve as a Volo port with minor modifications.
Fraport AG wants to contribute its expertise in flight operations with a special focus on ground infrastructure, ground handling, as well as terminal and passenger services to the cooperation. In addition, the airport operator itself can fall back on experience in unmanned aerial operations gained as part of the ‘FraDrones’ programme. “Providing the ideal connection between the city centre and the airport poses a huge challenge for the world’s major cities. Together with Fraport AG, we are excited to pioneer the implementation of an air taxi service at one of Europe’s most important airports,” says Anke Giesen, Chief Operations Officer of Fraport AG.
Volocopter, for its part, has held a provisional traffic permit for its electric flight taxi from the German authorities since 2016 and is in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), from whom the company is seeking commercial certification. The manufacturer flies regularly in Germany and has also flown publicly several times in the past. In September 2017, the startup completed an unmanned test flight over Dubai and for the second half of 2019, a test series of inner-city flights is planned in Singapore.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter now praises the cooperation with Fraport as a major step forward: “Providing the ideal connection between the city centre and the airport poses a huge challenge for the world’s major cities. Together with Fraport AG, we are excited to pioneer the implementation of an air taxi service at one of Europe’s most important airports”.
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