Volocopter and British Skyports plan to complete the first port for electric air taxis before the end of this year. The presentation is planned during the public test flights Volocopter has announced for the second half of the year in Singapore.
Volo-Port is the name given by the German aviation startup to the landing platforms planned for its service. According to Volocopter, they will be the only physical infrastructure necessary to operate air taxis in cities in the near future. The agency Brandlab is responsible for the design of the Volo ports. Their detailed plans are currently being shown at the GreenTech Festival in Berlin.
According to the startup, each individual Volo port is designed in such a way that it can be operated both independently and with other Volo ports in different formations. This approach allows a dynamic growth of the infrastructure. “We have analysed the available space and movement patterns in city centres worldwide and identified infrastructure as one of the keys to the new air taxi market,” says Duncan Walker, Managing Director of Skyports.
With the first prototype of a mobile Volo port, the partners will demonstrate passenger areas and processes, including pre-flight and boarding controls, and test critical ground operations steps such as battery replacement, battery charging, maintenance and security checks. In addition, the prototype will be used to monitor the authorities’ infrastructure and gather feedback for further development.
The ports are also essential to the final design of the VTOL as they enable quick and repeated battery swaps. As a spokesperson told electric during the New Mobility Tour in Berlin, each Volocopter includes 9 battery modules that power two rotors each. While two may fail for the air taxi to still land safely, Volocopter aims to exchange the batteries at every stop – within three minutes – in future.
Since 2016 Volocopter has held a provisional traffic approval for its electric flying taxi from the German authorities and is in close exchange with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), from which the company is seeking a commercial approval. The manufacturer flies regularly in Germany and Dubai and has also flown publicly several times in the past. For the second half of 2019, as mentioned above, a test series of inner-city flights is planned in Singapore reportedly.
“Receiving the commercial license for air taxi aircraft is a question of time not possibility. We are thus focusing on shaping the necessary ecosystem around UAM (urban air mobility) including air traffic management, city regulation and the take-off and landing infrastructure,” says Alex Zosel, co-founder of Volocopter. This includes air traffic management, the legal basis in the cities as well as the launch and landing infrastructure. “Once regulation comes through on the aviation and city level – and this will be sooner than most think – we will be ready to take off,” Zosel adds confidently.
Volocopter recently announced its intention to cooperate with Frankfurt Airport. The aim of both sides is to develop concepts for the ground infrastructure and the operation of electric air taxis for use at airports. The main focus is on smooth passenger handling and efficient connections to existing traffic infrastructure.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.