Some thirty industrialists and institutions will carry out tests in real conditions for future flying taxis in Ile-de-France starting at the end of winter at a Val-d’Oise airport, the promoters of this project announced on 25 November.
“The first European ‘vertiport'”
“We are going to create the first European ‘vertiport’ here”, enthused Augustin de Romanet, CEO of Groupe ADP, manager of Ile-de-France airports, participating in the inauguration of this area installed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airport . en-Vexin, 35 km northwest of Paris. “This inauguration begins the first experiments in real conditions in electric vehicles with vertical take-off and landing” (eVTOL, its acronym), according to a joint press release from ADP, the Ile-de-France Region and the RATP. The transport company will equip the project with its noise and vibration analysis laboratory, its general director, Catherine Guillouard, explained to AFP: much quieter than helicopters, “it is very important that these new vehicles and their operation are acceptable to the population “.
Double the price of a trip on a VTC
The first eVTOL tested will be that of the German company Volocopter, but other start-ups such as Vertical Aerospace, Ascendance and Lilium are participating in the project, as well as Airbus and Thales. Pontoise airport was chosen because it is a “complete airport, with a 1,600 meter runway, a fire station, a control tower”, commented Edward Arkwright, number 2 of ADP: “we want to test all the components of the device” during these operations that will begin “at the end of February, beginning of March”.
There is also the question of the “social acceptability” of these devices, acknowledged Ms Guillouard, who expects to see flying taxis carrying “a few thousand passengers every day by the end of the decade.” The aim is to limit the cost of a race to “double the price of a VTC”, or one hundred euros, according to her. Subject to certification, the project participants wish to establish two experimental lines, a sample of their know-how, during the 2024 Olympic Games: Issy-les-Moulineaux – Saint-Cyr (Yvelines) and Roissy- Le Bourget-Paris heliport . .
“These are not ‘gadgets’ that are going to be tested here. They are technologies that will change the aeronautical industry”, with enthusiasm the Delegate Minister of Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, greeting projects that are happening in the “reality” of mobilities so far “imaginary” seen in movies like “Back to the Future” or “The Fifth Element”.
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