Italian startup Walle is to partner with eVTOL aircraft developer Jaunt Air Mobility to launch air taxi services. According to the Milan-based company, it will focus initially on providing flights within a 50-km (30-mile) radius using Jaunt’s five-seat, hybrid-electric Journey, which is expected to be certified and in production by 2026.
Walle has committed to buying three of the new Jaunt aircraft. According to chief marketing officer Andrea Tessera, the company intends to increase its fleet as it adds new routes to the planned network of services.
The Journey's projected range of at least 80 miles will allow Walle to expand the length of the routes it serves. For instance, the company indicated that it may operate to the popular lake resorts between Milan and the Swiss border.
Walle is working with regulatory and local authorities in Italy to make plans for its proposed air taxi network. One potential route is from Milan Malpensa Airport to the center of the northern Italian city and another would be from the port of Naples, where cruise ships dock, to the island of Capri. The prospective operator also wants to provide services for visitors to the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Olympic games.
“Our goal is to challenge the future of mobility,” commented Walle founder and CEO Domenico Gagliardi. “Italy, like much of Europe, is challenged by the time it takes to travel from outside a city to an urban center, often costing two or more hours one way, and the problem is only growing. Going vertical to the sky is the obvious answer.”
According to Tessera, Walle has purposely unveiled its plans well ahead of the new aircraft being available to allow time to build public acceptance of its advanced air mobility operating model. Apart from reglators, the company says it will engage directly with all stakeholders to build the case for launching flights, especially in urban areas.
U.S.-based Jaunt Air Mobility views Walle as a strategic partner for its aircraft, which will be powered by VerdeGo’s hybrid-electric diesel generator system. In addition to employing the passenger-carrying Journey model, Jaunt has plans for aircraft configured for emergency medical, freight, and military support missions. The Walle team are expected to provide design advice for the cabin interior of the Journey.
“We feel confident in our ability to commercialize our aircraft by 2026,” said Jaunt CEO Martin Peryea. “The unique configuration of combining a fixed-wing airplane and single slow-rotor technology gives us revolutionary performance and the highest level of safety among the eVTOL contenders.”
Jaunt's chief commercial officer Simon Briceno told FutureFlight that discussions with Walle began in early 2020. He said that the company is working with prospective eVTOL aircraft operators on plans for new applications through its newly-established Access Skyways alliance with PS&S and Price Systems.
Jaunt intends to certify its aircraft under the FAA’s existing Part 29 rules for rotorcraft and expects to start test flights with a full-scale prototype in 2023.