Volocopter has initiated the certification process for the US market. The German e-flight taxi startup announced that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepted its application for parallel approval on 22 December 2020.
Once this is done by the FAA, Volocopter will be able to offer its flight taxi services in the US. Volocopter is applying for FAA certification validation for its VoloCity e-taxi parallel with the ongoing EASA type certification in Europe.
The startup anticipates a commercial launch in Europe in two to three years. Once it receives type certification from EASA, it will offer its services in the US as well with FAA validation, Volocopter shares.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter says: “Certification is the key to this market, and we are excited to begin the process of seeking approval from the FAA to introduce this innovative era of mobility not only in Europe and Asia but also in the US.”
He says that the VoloCity not only meets the aviation industry’s highest safety standards, but the electric aircraft also sets the benchmark for lowest noise emissions among all eVTOLs. “Volocopter flight cab services will be priced comparably to cab services,” Reuter explains. In terms of their aimed-for market, Volocopter is developing the VoloCity to meet the growing demand for better mobility in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington DC, the executive said.
Just a few weeks ago, Volocopter announced plans to launch its first commercial e-flight cab service in Singapore within the next three years. In preparation for the upcoming launch, the German company recently established Volocopter Asia Holding there. Volocopter already completed the first manned test flight with its electric 2X aircraft in Singapore in October 2019.
Volocopter flight cabs are electrically powered VTOLs. Reminiscent of helicopters, the flying machines are powerful enough to carry two people nearly 30 kilometres, according to the manufacturer. They are said to be so quiet that at a flight altitude of 100 meters they are no longer audible against normal urban background noise.
Velocopter says it is “building the world’s first sustainable and scalable Urban Air Mobility business.” This is currently a hard-fought-for title.
Other air taxis are also moving ahead in a much-anticipated urban air-taxi market. Although it remains to be seen how affordable air-taxis will be and how many of them will be usable in dense urban landscapes, several companies are edging forward with the development of such aircraft. In February last year, Wisk has received approval to test eVTOL flights with passengers in New Zealand.
Another German startup is also well into the race’s starting blocks to get flying taxis in the air. Lilium had raised close to 400 million euros last year and just got the former Airbus CEO Tom Enders on their Board. Their electric VTOL differs from more drone-like concepts as it takes its design cues and flights from jets. While competitors see the urban air space as next territory, Lilium suggests mid-range flights within a 300 km radius, i.e. racing from London to Manchester in 20 minutes.
They also specified the US a key market and announced their expansion last November. They had reached a corresponding agreement with the Tavistock Development Company and the City of Orlando, Florida. Lilium wants to serve “several large cities” such as Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville from their hub. In Europe, Lilium had initiated the certification process for the VTOL in spring 2019.
The world of flying taxis is also not exclusive to battery-electric and hybrid vehicles. The Isr
aeli air taxi developer Urban Aeronautics has entered into a cooperation with the Californian startup HyPoint to use its fuel cell technology in its vertical take-off aircraft CityHawk. Urban Aeronautics is currently still using a hybrid drive in the CityHawk VTOL.
Simultaneously, Chinese vehicle-making giant Geely is well-positioned early on after having taken over Terrafugia back in 2017. The company also recently acquired shares in Volocopter.