Operational trials for planned eVTOL air taxi services in the Paris area are being expanded with the opening on November 10 of a vertiport at Pointoise-Cormeilles Airport. According to French airports company Groupe ADP and its partners—the ground infrastructure specialist Skyports and eVTOL aircraft developer Volocopter—the facility is the first fully integrated vertiport terminal in Europe.
The vertiport is part of the wider Re.Invent Air Mobility planning exercise that is preparing to launch air taxi services during the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024. A group of around 30 partner organizations, which also include public transportation group RATP and economic development agency Choose Paris Region, say that the facility will test critical technology and passenger processes.
UK-based Skyports designed the Pointoise vertiport in collaboration with Groupe ADP, which runs the general aviation airfield as well as other major Paris airports, including Charles De Gaulle, Orly, and Le Bourget. The testing will be conducted with cooperation from French aviation safety regulator DGAC, along with airlines and multiple suppliers, and will cover factors including vehicle integration; ground movement procedures; battery recharging; flight scheduling, check-in, and boarding; and the use of biometric systems.
During a launch event at Pontoise on November 10, Volocopter provided a model of its two-seat VoloCity eVTOL vehicle. The German company also conducted a crewed flight with its 2X technology demonstrator, which it says is currently the only eVTOL aircraft authorized to conduct flight testing in France by the DGAC. Exercises conducted this week have also included flight monitoring and the use of digital operating systems, including Skyports’ vertiport operating system and Volocopter’s VoloIQ platform, which it intends to use to manage all aspects of its air taxi flights.
The Re.Invent partners intend to explore eVTOL aircraft use cases that could also include health service support and logistics, according to Groupe ADP chairman and CEO Augustin de Romanet. The plan for the Olympic Games includes a network of passenger services connecting sites such as the Olympic Village, sporting venues, and at least one location in the city center.
Volcopter started test flights with its VoloCity prototype in December 2021 and is also working on a larger eVTOL model called VoloConnect and a cargo vehicle called the VoloDrone. Earlier this month, the company attracted a further $182 million investment from Saudi Arabian and Chinese backers.