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Friday, December 2, 2022

The first flight of a drone taxi took place under heavy air traffic near Paris

On Thursday, an electric helicopter equipped with several rotors successfully completed its maiden flight in regular air traffic near Paris as part of the preparation for commercial flights beginning in 2024.

The Volocopter test aircraft, which resembles a giant drone with eight rotors and took off from the Pontoise-Cormeilles airport north of Paris with a passenger on board, briefly circled about while other aircraft were in the neighbourhood. The flight took place while other aircraft were nearby.

Dirk Hoke, the CEO of the German business Volocopter, said that the company would ready its craft for certification within the next 18 months. He also stated that he intends to commence short commercial flights by 2024, which is the year that Paris will host the Summer Olympic Games.

The business anticipates that its two-seater aircraft will one day be able to fly fully autonomously with only passengers on board; however, it acknowledges that there is still a significant amount of work to be done in terms of the necessary infrastructure, airspace integration, and public acceptance.

The craft’s computerised fly-by-wire technology and many rotors, according to the craft’s test pilot Paul Stone, make it far simpler to control than a conventional helicopter.

“When you move one control in a helicopter, three things happen, and it’s like patting your head and stroking your belly – it’s a coordination exercise,” said the instructor.

Ile-de-France region president Valérie Pecresse stated that her region had provided financial support for the initiative because she hopes that the first passenger flight in a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will take place in her region. Paris is located in the centre of the Ile-de-France region.

In a statement, she referred to the development of low-altitude aircraft for urban air transportation as “an adventure full of prospects.”

Volocopter is competing with other businesses from across the globe, including Lilium, Joby Aviation, and Airbus, in an expensive race to be the first company to get a flying taxi licensed by authorities. It anticipates reaching this goal in around two years’ time.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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