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Volocopter and AutoFlight firm up deals for Paris Olympics
The eVTOL OEMs have been running test flights from the Pontoise Vertiport ahead of operations at the Paris Olympics. Volocopter will be offering eVTOL services to the public as an addition to existing public transportation.
Director general of civil aviation Damien Caze, Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke, president of the regional council of Île-de-France Valerie Precresse and Groupe ADP deputy CEO Edward Arkwright.

Volocopter and Paris airport operator Groupe ADP have reaffirmed that Paris will be the first European city, and likely the first city in the world, to offer eVTOL services, in time for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The services will be available to the general public as an addition to the existing public transportation system of Paris Region.

Volocopter has been conducting eVTOL flight tests at the Pontoise testbed, and bringing all regulators and stakeholders together since 2020. The OEM has more than 10 years of electric aircraft development experience and is currently the only eVTOL company on track to achieve certification in 2024 from EASA. Electric air taxis are certified to the same strict safety standards as airliners and create safety through redundant aircraft features that have been tested in over 1,500 test flights.

The partners will start with three connection routes and two tourist round trip flights, with several aircraft. The connection routes will operate between Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris Le Bourget airport, integrating successfully into the skies of Europe's busiest airport; between Austerlitz barge vertiport and Paris Heliport, integrating a connection over the densely populated urban area of Paris; and between Paris Heliport and Saint-Cyr-l'École Airfield, validating the route potential for tourism use cases. Tourist round trip flights will be offered from Paris Heliport and Paris Le Bourget.

Operations in Paris will begin from five vertiports and will gradually grow to cover the whole Paris region over the next decade. Volocopter's VoloCity aircraft, which have capacity for one pilot and one passenger, will be flying at heights below 500m and will not be audible from ground level in urban environments.

Vertiport construction will start over the course of the summer and by September at the latest, and be in full swing at the end of 2024. The five vertiports in Paris have a development schedule that allows for commercial launch in summer 2024. A special vertiport will be located on the Austerlitz barge on the Seine river. This month, an environmental impact study was submitted to the French environmental authority and will be followed by a public acceptance survey in the second half of 2023. These will form the basis for starting construction of the vertiport early next year.

Each vertiport will feature passenger terminals, with one to three take off and landing spots, and integrate the learnings from the Pontoise Vertiport testbed. More than 1,000 visitors have come to see dozens of flights and other tests that have been executed in Pontoise over the past 18 months.

These first routes will bring the greatest insights into the UAM market yet, allowing the public, partners and stakeholders to familiarise themselves with this new form of mobility. The city of Paris, its regulators and stakeholders can prove the potential for this emission-free-in-flight and quiet addition to urban mobility. Volocopter will receive feedback from real customers to continuously improve this first-of-a-kind service and improve electric air taxi services for everyone. The learnings from the first commercial operations will shape how UAM will continue to evolve over decades to come.

Beyond bringing passengers to their destinations in cities or offering tourist flights, Volocopter is also collaborating with air rescue operator ADAC Luftrettung to help save lives by deploying eVTOLs in emergency medical services.

The ADAC Luftrettung feasibility study and the opportunities for rapid emergency care using eVTOLs have also been met with great interest by the Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, which has joined forces with Groupe ADP to explore the deployment of ADAC Luftrettung's concept for multicopter operations in EMS in the Paris region as well.

Groupe ADP deputy CEO Edward Arkwright says: “The 2023 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, the cradle of aviation pioneers, will be the turning point in the take off of new electric air mobility: the transition from dream to reality. All the indicators are green for a successful summer 2024. The challenges ahead are huge, but they are a great source of pride for all those involved in the project, with whom we share the conviction that carbon-free air travel also brings new services.”

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter, adds: “We are counting down the days to making electric air taxis a reality. Together with our French partners, we will take command in decarbonising aviation, slowly but surely. Paris Air Show 2023 is the ultimate opportunity to show thousands of people the benefits of electric air taxis daily.”

Groupe ADP has also signed a memorandum of understanding with AutoFlight to perform experimental flights with its Prosperity I eVTOL aircraft from Pontoise Vertiport during the 2024 Olympics, to showcase the exceptional capabilities of its 250km-range lift and cruise eVTOL. This collaboration aims to highlight AutoFlight's potential in scaling up sustainable urban logistics and passenger transportation under real-world conditions.

Groupe ADP is spearheading the development of eVTOL infrastructure in the Paris region with five additional vertiports in the making, namely Paris heliport in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris Austerlitz, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Le Bourget and Saint-Cyr l'Ecole, Pontoise offers the optimal setting to experiment with AutoFlight's eVTOL technology.

AutoFlight's Prosperity I fixed wing aircraft represents a remarkable leap forward in terms of efficiency. It leads the pack with a world-record 250 km range and boasts energy consumption levels comparable to that of an electric car. AutoFlight is one of only a few eVTOL OEMs to have mastered the challenging 'transition phase' from vertical to horizontal flight, having done so hundreds of times. The advanced engineering of the aircraft allows for significant reductions in trip length while maximising asset utilisation in urban environments, ushering in a new era of sustainable logistics and passenger transportation.

Managing director Mark Henning says: “Through conducting experimental piloted flights from the Pontoise Vertiport, a best-in-class infrastructure operated by Groupe ADP, we aim to showcase the immense potential of advanced air mobility. Our 250km-range eVTOLs will operate in real-world conditions, highlighting their capabilities in urban environments and their invaluable contribution to sustainable logistics and mobility. The 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a global celebration, and we would take pride in AutoFlight's technology being part of it. We are grateful to Groupe ADP for its collaboration.”

This collaboration is part of a broader framework of air mobility experiments that Groupe ADP has gathered since 2020 in a unique ecosystem, and contributes to the efforts of the Paris region to position itself at the forefront of urban mobility.

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