Connecting Suburbs to Cities

By Kelly Louiseize
Editor Jennifer J. Lacelle
Date May 19, 2021

It’s here. Those vehicles in the cartoon show, The Jetsons; the ones in the sci-fi movies slicing between skyscrapers, they’ve become a reality and are less than five years away from full operation. One of those ingenious companies is Volocopter and they’ve introduced a new member to their family: VoloConnect.

Its mandate is to connect suburbs to cities utilizing its affordable, safe, efficient electric air taxi service for cities around the globe. The company has leveraged its experience from their two other air taxi prototypes, VoloCity and VoloDrone.

“With cities like Singapore, Paris, and Dubai, Volocopter has consistently and publicly demonstrated its expertise in electric flight for inner-city mobility,” Volocopter stated in a press release.

VoloConnect has longer missions and higher payloads. It seats four spaciously and has six electric motors and rotors, two propulsion fans and retractable landing gear. Maximum cruising speed is 250 km/h with a flight range of 100 kilometers based on current battery technology. As with the VoloCity, the company intends to work closely with The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to obtain Design Organization Approval.

To date, it is the only Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle to achieve regulatory approval from EASA, which has one of the highest safety standards for aircraft in the world. The compact aircraft layout is naturally stable and highly efficient during flight while maintaining a slow stall speed. A version is being tested in Munich air space by Chief Engineer Sebastian Mores.

VoloConnect has an enhanced (10^-9) certification made specifically for eVTOLs. It means that there will be no fatal accident in 1 billion-flight hours.

“This is how safe the aircraft must be,” states Helena Treeck, spokesperson for Volocopter in an email.

Its long-standing relationship with partners like Aéroports de Paris, Microsoft Azure, Luftansa Industry Solutions and many more, assist in bringing air mobility to life. Certain advantages exist with being first to market.

“There are first mover advantages in the eVTOL industry, like setting the standards for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in a certain city. The market opportunity is quite big.”

In a Blue Paper from Morgan Stanley Research, analysts detail how investment in autonomous flying aircraft is accelerating with respect to passenger, military and defense, freight and packing transportation. The report estimates the total market to be worth $1.5 trillion (USD) to a bullish view of $2.9 trillion by 2040.

“The intersection of many technologies such as ultra-efficient batteries, autonomous systems and advanced manufacturing processes are spinning a flurry of activity in this space,” reported Adam Jones, head of Morgan Stanley’s Global Auto and Shared Mobility research team. “We see the development of the urban air mobility ecosystem as extremely long-dated with upfront capital allocation, testing and development in the short term.”

National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA), Aerospace and defense have entered the arena with investment startup capital. Clearly, it understands the opportunities both for deployment and freight transport, but the real goal is to develop a vehicle to transport people.

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