Paris will have an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) service before the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games kick off. A German company, Volocopter, has made this announcement at the Paris Air Show, along with its partners, Groupe ADP and the French Civil Aviation Authority.
Paris will be the first European city to offer Volocopter’s VoloCity air taxi, which is an eVTOL with two seats (pilot and passenger), a range of 35km, and speeds of up to 110km/h. The VoloCity will be fully battery-powered and will fly at heights below 500m in Paris. Volocopter conducted a week-long test campaign that demonstrated the aircraft’s inaudibility against the city’s soundscape.
Volocopter plans to offer three connection routes during the Olympics: Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris Le Bourget airport, the vertiport of Austerlitz barge on the Seine in Paris to Paris Heliport, and Paris Heliport to the airfield of Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole in Versailles. Additionally, there will be two tourist round-trip flights available from Paris Heliport to Paris Le Bourget.
The general public will be able to book flights for the summer of 2024, with booking opportunities set to be unveiled on Volocopter’s channels in the second half of the year. The operations will gradually expand to cover the entire Paris region over the next decade. Construction of the vertiports will begin as early as this summer, and the commercial launch is scheduled for summer 2024.
Volocopter has been conducting flight tests with eVTOLs in Paris for the past 18 months in collaboration with Groupe ADP. However, Volocopter still needs to run its aircraft through intensive weather tests and provide extensive documentation to obtain certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The success of Volocopter’s operations during the Paris Olympics is expected to boost the urban air mobility sector as a whole, increasing investor confidence and demonstrating the viability and safety of air taxis. However, the eVTOL industry faces challenges in securing regulatory approval and maintaining investor funding. The current financial climate, with reduced liquidity and declining venture capital, adds to the difficulties faced by eVTOL companies.
While Volocopter is seen as a significant player in the eVTOL sector, many other companies could struggle or face consolidation due to the challenging investment climate. Funding for eVTOL projects has declined, and investors are showing a preference for drone investments due to perceived regulatory hurdles in the air taxi space. Nevertheless, larger players, such as Honeywell International, continue to see promise in the eVTOL industry and expect to see consolidation in the market in the future.