Volocopter has completed its part in a first test campaign using its full scale, remotely piloted 2X prototype as part of a joint operation with France-based air traffic management and unmanned aerial systems operator M3 Systems, and light and electric aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel.
The test campaign took place at Pontoise airfield near Paris, with week-long flight tests simulating three different avoidance manoeuvres in real world situations where unforeseen circumstances occur, such as a complete airport or vertiport closure, an unavailable final approach and take off (FATO) area and traffic deconfliction. This joint campaign between the three companies and their French partners, Parisian airport operator Groupe ADP and its wholly-owned subsidiary Hologarde, aimed to achieve smooth interaction within and between the new lower airspace's unmanned traffic management (UTM) and standard civil aviation ATM systems.
The aviation industry is experiencing an innovation upsurge driven by technology and societal pressure for new forms of aviation focused on sustainable, digital and autonomous air mobility. The resulting solutions that cater to this industry shift will generate a significant increase in traffic density in the aforementioned lower airspace. Since existing ATM systems are not designed to handle such volumes or digitalisation, harmonising existing and new traffic management systems for brand-new aircraft integration will ensure efficient large scale operations. This includes commercial, general and drone aircraft for cargo and passenger flights, both crewed and uncrewed.
The CORUS-XUAM project, funded by the EU's initiative Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking, focuses on solving the challenge of conventional and new traffic management system integration and consists of 19 partners and 11 related third parties. Volocopter, M3 Systems and Pipistrel all completed individual flight test campaigns prior to this event in order to bring their aircraft in line with the U-space services. The CORUS-XUAM flight test conducted at Pontoise airfield is the third of several flight tests to simulate a variety of real-world scenarios that demonstrate how UTM and ATM intersect with multiple aircraft types. Moreover, the project will continue to proactively test and create a safe and controlled lower airspace under the EU's Single European Sky (SES) initiative throughout 2022.
Flight tests involved Volocopter's 2X as well as M3 System's BOREAL remotely piloted aircraft system and Pipistrel's crewed Velis Electro, the only type-certified electric aircraft in commercial service in the world. Pipistrel used the conventional ATM tower and system while Volocopter and M3 Systems used the UTM system.
The Volocopter prototype was involved in testing the unexpected occupancy of a FATO and aircraft diversion due to priority landing of another aircraft with Pipistrel; and the diversion of a flight path with two aircraft flying the same path with M3 Systems.
Chief risk and certification officer Oliver Reinhardt says: "Volocopter is pleased to have completed another successful flight test within the SESAR CORUS-XUAM project. Back in 2019 when we first tested the 2X ATM integration at Helsinki airport, we were actively involved in the development of the European U-Space concept of operations. Building an efficient ecosystem around UAM is Volocopter's mission, and connecting ATM/UTM integration with our digital platform, VoloIQ, is poised to be an integral part of bringing UAM to megacities worldwide. I am looking forward to the next CORUS-XUAM test flights later this year in Germany and what we can achieve there.”
This project has received funding from the SESAR Joint Undertaking under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 101017682.