Skyports and Volocopter inaugurate Europe’s first vertiport terminal
Skyports and Volocopter in partnership with Groupe ADP have launched Europe’s first “fully integrated” vertiport terminal for UAM.
The AAM sandbox located at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield, about 35km outside of Paris, will be the base for advanced testing of Volocopter prototypes and Skyports’ passenger processes.
Approved by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), areas of testing include: vehicle integration, ground movement procedures and charging procedures; flight scheduling and information exchange; and the passenger journey through the terminal, including security, check-in and biometric technologies.
The launch event provided an opportunity to demonstrate the end-to-end passenger journey. A crewed flight of Volocopter VX2, which lasted around five minutes, and a model of the VoloCity, which is being developed as Volocopter’s first certified aircraft for commercial services, were featured. The VX2 is only aircraft currently authorised by DGAC for eVTOL test flights in France.
Chief test pilot, Paul Stone, who piloted the VX2 for the test flight, told Revolution.aero in Paris this week: “We had the benefit of some beautiful French weather, calm winds and perfect visibility so it was a very straightforward and smooth flight today.”
“There are only one or two of us who are flying manned eVTOLs at the moment,” added Stone. “What we found striking is it very easy to build up confidence and competency with the aircraft quite quickly — it is easier to fly than a helicopter.”
The testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles is now the most extensive technology-enabled test site for UAM in Europe. The consortium is formed by Groupe ADP, Choose Paris Region, and RATP Group, and made up of 30 ecosystem partners.
Dirk Hoke, CEO, Volocopter, said the testbed is a “stellar example” of ecosystem partners collaborating to accelerate the realisation of UAM. “We can test processes, integrate new and old systems, and simulate different operational scenarios to create trust and positive awareness of all stakeholders. Every test is one step closer to commercialisation in time for 2024,” added Hoke.
Collaboration is key to making progress in the AAM sector, according to Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports.
“The Pontoise-Cormeilles terminal is a physical demonstration of the fact that innovation won’t occur in isolation; it requires collaboration from a multitude of area experts, including operators, vehicle manufacturers, and technology developers, each of which have an important role to play in achieving the ultimate objective of commercial AAM services,” said Walker.