The fact that the subject of air taxis is now in the center of international attention was demonstrated at the Bruchsal in Baden-Württemberg. With the opening of the hangar, Volocopter celebrated the certification of its production. The event brought together journalists from all over the world, as well as Minister of Transport Volker Wissing (FDP) and Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann (The Greens).
Companies compete for breakthrough
Today, more than 200 companies around the world are vying for the title of “first commercial air taxi”. The fact that Volocopter is arguably the first manufacturer to hit the market with a “VoloCity” production model could mean a decisive competitive advantage in the industry. The company’s program is therefore ambitious: at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, for the first time in Europe, passengers will be transported by German air taxis.
As for the Asian continent, the company already has a head start there. It will launch an air taxi service in Singapore next year. In February this year, VoloCity also received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Japan and is expected to enter the market in time for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka.
Will taxis be circling the city soon?
If air taxis come to Paris next year, it will be more of a marketing gimmick than a solution to Paris’ transport problem during the Olympics. After all, air taxis are not a means of public transport: most models are designed for a maximum of ten passengers, in the city centers there are not enough landing strips, as well as battery charging stations.
Another necessary condition for the complete replacement of other modes of transport is all-weather operation. In the future, air taxis will fly autonomously, but for now, VTOLs will be piloted, which will lead to high operating costs. Therefore, aviation experts do not see air taxis as a revolution that will make problems on the ground disappear into the air.
Where to use air taxi?
For these reasons, most air taxi manufacturers target not only urban centers with dense transport infrastructure, but also regions where electric helicopters may become the only means of transport. Experts see particularly great potential for air taxis in the Asian region and on the African continent.
In Germany, air taxis can be used primarily on coasts and islands as a long-term replacement for ferries there. According to experts, they should also be used for the special transport of ambulance doctors or medicines.
What are the challenges ahead
Technical advances in recent years mean that the commercial use of air taxis is within reach. While the opening of the Bruchsal facility is a milestone, many experts are questioning the prospects for cost-effective and sustainable air taxi mobility.
Germany still lacks priority approval from the strict European Aviation Safety Agency EASA. If this obstacle is overcome next year, then the way will be opened for a new chapter of mobility, even if in islands like Borkum rather than in cities like Berlin.
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