France plans for flying taxis during 2024 Paris Olympics


Volocopter to launch electric air taxis in time for Paris 2024 Olympics

Urban air mobility provider Volocopter has confirmed that its eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) services are on track to launch in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The company made the announcement at the Paris Air Show alongside its Paris-based partners, Groupe ADP and the French Civil Aviation Authority.

The French capital is set to be the first European city to offer the company’s VoloCity air taxi, an eVTOL with two seats (a pilot and a passenger), a 35 km range and speeds of up to 110km/h.

The electric air taxi will be fully battery-powered and will fly at heights below 500m in Paris. According to the company, the VoloCity will be inaudible from ground level in urban environments – the company ran a week-long test campaign which revealed that Volocopter aircraft cannot be heard against the Paris city soundscape.

Three connection routes are set to be on offer next year:

  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris Le Bourget airport
  • The vertiport of Austerlitz barge on the Seine in Paris to Paris Heliport
  • Paris Heliport to the airfield of Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole in Versailles

There will also be two tourist round-trip flights offered from Paris Heliport and Paris Le Bourget.

The general public will be able to book flights for the summer of 2024, with booking opportunities set to be unveiled on Volocopter’s channels in the second half of the year..

The operations in Paris will “gradually grow to cover the whole Paris region over the next decade”, according to Volocopter.

Construction of these vertiports is set to begin as early as this summer and by September at the latest, with a development schedule that allows for commercial launch in summer 2024.

Each vertiport will feature passenger terminals, with one to three takeoff and landing spots.

Groupe ADP and Volocopter have been conducting flight tests with eVTOLs at the Pontoise testbed in the northwestern suburb of Paris over the past 18 months.

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter, commented:

“We are counting down the days to making electric air taxis a reality. Together with our French partners, we will take command in decarbonizing aviation, slowly but surely. Paris Air Show 2023 is the ultimate opportunity to show thousands of people the benefits of electric air taxis daily.”

Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP, added:

“The 2023 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, the cradle of aviation pioneers, will be the turning point in the takeoff of new electric air mobility: the transition from dream to reality. All the indicators are green for a successful summer 2024. The challenges ahead are huge, but they are a great source of pride for all those involved in the project, with whom we share the conviction that carbon-free air travel also brings new services.”

Volocopter is also on track to achieve certification in 2024 from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The company also revealed that it had completed a series of air taxi test flights in Saudi Arabia in preparation for commercial operations in NEOM. The flight test campaign lasted over a week and follows NEOM’s €175 million investment and joint venture with Volocopter, launched in 2022.

Earlier this month United Airlines announced plans to launch eVTOL aircraft flights in the San Francisco Bay Area, partnering with Embraer’s Brazilian subsidiary Eve Air Mobility on the project.

Morgan Stanley analysts estimate the industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2040 and $9 trillion by 2050 with advances in battery and propulsion technology. Almost all of that will come after 2035, analysts say, because of the difficulty of getting new aircraft certified by U.S. and European regulators.

“The idea of mass urban transit remains a charming fantasy of the 1950s,” said Richard Aboulafia of AeroDynamic Advisory, an aerospace consultancy.

“The real problem is still that mere mortals like you and I don’t get routine or exclusive access to $4 million vehicles. You and I can take air taxis right now. It’s called a helicopter.”

Still, electric taxis taking to Paris’ skies as Olympians are going faster, higher and stronger could have the power to surprise — pleasantly so, Volocopter hopes.

One of the five planned Olympic routes would land in the heart of the city on a floating platform on the spruced-up River Seine. Developers point out that ride-hailing apps and E-scooters also used to strike many customers as outlandish. And as with those technologies, some are betting that early adopters of flying taxis will prompt others to try them, too.

“It will be a totally new experience for the people,” said Hoke, Volocopter’s CEO. “But twenty years later someone looks back at what changed based on that and then they call it a revolution. And I think we are at the edge of the next revolution.”