Officials in Paris have selected 30 companies and organizations as partners for plans to develop urban air mobility services in the French capital. Development work is due to begin in June 2021 with “experiments” to be conducted in the test area established at the end of September 2020 at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airport.
The partners were chosen from 150 applications from 25 countries. They will form working groups to cover five key sets of issues needing to be addressed to meet the goal of launching air taxi operations on a trial basis in 2024, in time for the Paris Olympic Games.
Volocopter will be the first eVTOL aircraft developer to test its design (the two-seat VoloCity), beginning in June. The other selected companies will be invited to participate in extensive trials at the airport, which is 22 miles northwest of the center of Paris.
Flight trials will be conducted in cooperation with the French civil aviation authority, and with the support of EASA and air traffic management agency Eurocontrol. As well as evaluating aircraft taking off and landing, the trials will also focus on parking, recharging, and maintenance of the vehicles.
The selected companies include five eVTOL aircraft developers in addition to Volocopter, as well as several major aerospace groups and specialists in aircraft operations, maintenance, and support. The winning applications announced on January 19 are categorized as follows, according to the working group in which they will participate:
Vehicle Development: Airbus (France–aerospace group and eVTOL aircraft developer), Ascendance Flight Technologies (France–eVTOL aircraft developer), EHang (China–eVTOL aircraft developer), H3 Dynamics (Singapore–manufacturer and developer of ultralight hydrogen-electric systems), Pipistrel (Slovenia–electric aircraft manufacturer), Safran Electronics & Defense (France–manufacturer of the Patroller VTOL aircraft and specialist in optronics, avionics, electronics systems, and critical software for civil and military applications), Volocopter (Germany–eVTOL aircraft developer), Vertical Aerospace (UK–eVTOL aircraft manufacturer), and Zipline (U.S.–logistics drone manufacturer and operator).
Operations: Air France (France–expected to contribute in areas such as maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft), CAE (Canada–training and simulation), Dassault Falcon Services (France–maintenance, operations, and support services), ESTACA (France–engineering school, specializing in mobility and aeronautics), Helifirst (France–helicopter charter operator), and Helipass (France–on-demand helicopter flight reservation provider)
Urban Infrastructure: Green Motion (Switzerland–designer of charging systems for electric vehicles), IDEMIA I&S (France–a specialist in digital security, biometrics, and identification-authentification solutions), Leosphere (France–Lidar equipment provider, supporting remote sensing and weather forecasting), and Skyports (UK–vertiport designer and operator and logistics drone operator).
Airspace Integration: Cergy University and ESSEC (France–university group), ENAC (France–civil aviation engineering school), Internest (France–positioning systems to support autonomous landings), M3 Systems (Belgium–on-board geo-tracking applications developer), and Thales SIX (France–on-board anti-collision systems developer).
Public Acceptance: Bruitparif (France–noise assessment center), Polytechnique School (France–engineering school), Envirosuite (Australia–real-time and localized environmental data collection technology), UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies (U.S.–transport research center), ONERA (France–aviation, space and defense research center), and Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center (the Netherlands–aviation research and consulting).
The Re.Invent Air Mobility Challenge program is supported by the Choose Paris Region economic development agency, which is working in partnership with airports group ADP and ground transportation network RATP. ADP has a shareholding in Skyports.
“Through the collaboration of public and private players, and by inviting innovative companies from around the world to join us and complete our value chain, we are building a unique ecosystem to develop the urban air mobility sector, reinforce the attractiveness of the Paris region, and support responsible industries and employment,” commented Choose Paris Region president Franck Margain.