Volocopter, EHang and Hoversurf - Revolution.Aero news #47

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German eVTOL manufacturer Volocopter's new commercial air taxi design - the VoloCity - leads our round up of key developments this week. This is the fourth generation of the Volocopter VTOL (with the first generation being an exercise ball with 16 rotors attached).

From a first glance, the cabin has undergone the largest overhaul. However, the passenger capacity remains unchanged from the previous model the Volocopter 2X - still only seating two people. The biggest new addition from the 2X is a stabiliser to the rear of the aircraft and a new rotor beam design to improve aerodynamics.

Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter said: “The VoloCity is our most powerful Volocopter yet. It is rigorously designed to meet the demands of Urban Air Mobility and incorporates all requirements of the SC-VTOL certification standard established by EASA in July 2019.

“It is a result of all the insights we have gathered from our extensive testing programmes over the past years. With the VoloCity we will open the first commercial routes and bring Urban Air Mobility to life.”

With a commercial aircraft design finalised, Volocopter’s next step is to develop infrastructure for its urban air taxi operations. This includes building take-off and landing pads and integrating the service into existing air-traffic management systems.

The Volocity will be taking its first public test flight in Singapore in this year’s fourth quarter.

Volocopter was not the only company to reveal a new VTOL this week. Following the debut of its electric hoverbike, California-based Hoversurf has released the first details of its eVTOL concept – which it bills as a “flying Ferrari”.

Similar to the Volocity, Hoversurf’s eVTOL is a two-seater electric aircraft. However, Hoversurf is aiming for a more up-market vehicle, hoping to bring a “well known concept designer for cars like Ferrari and Bugatti Veron” on board to design the aircraft.

Further designs for a fully functioning air taxi are planned, with the next version understood to be an autonomous model. This model will also be able to float on water, allowing it eventually to make water take-offs and landings.

Keeping up its news streak of the past few weeks, EHang has completed tests of its geofencing technology – receiving a safety certification from the China’s Academy of Civil Aviation Science & Technology (CAST).

EHang’s ‘UAS fence’ geofencing technology restricts unmanned aircraft from entering specific areas of the airspace. Both EHang’s 216 eVTOL and its Falcon drone were able to detect the virtual perimeter of the UAS fence before entering the restricted airspace.

They then avoided it by hovering, landing or returning to safety. The tests also proved that both aircraft could not be started within the fenced areas.