Aurélien Fleurot with AFP
07h28, 11 November 2022
Flying cars from 2024 in Paris? In any case, this is the ambition of several promoters. Five bases are planned in Paris and its region in order to accommodate flying taxis by 2024. This objective, for an experimental service which has yet to obtain regulatory green lights, was mentioned this Thursday during the inauguration at Pontoise-Cormeilles-en- Vexin (Val-d’Oise), from the passenger terminal of a “vertiport”.
It is in these facilities, 35 km north-west of Paris, that the airport manager Groupe ADP, the RATP, the Ile-de-France region and the German aircraft manufacturer Volocopter have been carrying outvertical take-off and landing craft (VTOL by its acronym in English) in real conditions.
Machines that look like big insects
“Our objective is very clear, it is that in 2024, Notre-Dame reopens, that France shines at the Olympic Games and that in the Ile-de-France sky we can see the first VTOLs flying in Europe”, declared Thursday the general manager of Civil Aviation, Damien Cazé.
These electrical devices will have to be integrated into both air traffic and the urban environment, without neglecting their acceptability by the population. “VoloCity” vehicleslooking like large insects crowned, for their two-seater models, by 18 rotors, turn out to be four times less noisy than helicopters, according to Volocopter.
Already two airlines planned
“The know-how developed with this test terminal in Pontoise will be used directly for the development of several vertiports in the Paris region, to meet the deadline of 2024”, underlined ADP.
Two overhead lines are planned, one between Paris and Versailles, more precisely between the heliport of Issy-les-Moulineaux and the aerodrome of Saint-Cyr l’École. The other would connect Charles-de-Gaulle and Le Bourget airports to intramural Paris, a barge on the Seine quai d’Austerlitz, according to the same source.
Waiting for green light from EASA
Volocopter “is in the process of obtaining the European certification which will allow it to be able to fly on all the vertiports” concerned, according to ADP, which hopes for a green light from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2024. “The key now is to prepare for certification, it will be a big challenge for the next 18 months,” said Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke.
“But we are on the right track to fly to Paris in the summer of 2024,” assured this former senior Airbus official. He said he was committed to “proving that the technology is safe”: the VoloCities will be subject to the “same safety rules as Airbus or Boeing aircraft”, an acceptable technical margin of error of only one in a billion.
A technology for future emergency transport?
By 2024 “the planned experiment will be based on a fleet of around ten VoloCity ready to be deployed” in Ile-de-France, each device being able to perform two or three flights per hour thanks to quickly interchangeable batteries.
The two-seater VoloCity will carry a paying passenger, the other seat being reserved for a pilot while waiting for autonomous versions. The CEO of ADP, Augustin de Romanet, spoke on Thursday of a cost comparable to that of a VTC trip for customers. ADP is also toying with the project, in cooperation with the AP-HP, to carry out emergency transport “of biological material, minor injuries or specialized doctors” on board these devices.