The announcement a Huffpost said Christian Bauer, chief commercial officer of the German company Volocopter: “We will present our VoloCity air taxi at Rome airport from 27 to 30 October together with Italian government officials and then in the city center from 2 to 5 November”. It is the first time that a drone capable of transporting people has arrived in Italy. To see it take off it will have to wait until 2024, but the arrival of the prototype is much more than a simple exhibition. Flight tests have already been carried out in Singapore and at Helsinki airport. Italy is playing with France for the possibility of inaugurating in Europe that urban air mobility that will represent a different way of traveling, but also a continental market that will reach 4.5 billion dollars by 2030.
It will travel on a small two-seater helicopter with eighteen rotors on it: powered by nine lithium batteries, it will rise vertically in the sky and will be guided at first by a pilot, then remotely. Once the destination on board is set, the drone will be ready for the journey. Like in a taxi, from one part of the city to the other, without intermediate stops, at a speed of up to 110 km / h, landing and taking off from vertiporti, small urban spaces dedicated to departure and arrival operations. The journey will obviously be faster than aboard a taxi, bus or private car: from Rome Fiumicino airport to the center of the capital it will take 15 minutes instead of an average of 45 minutes.
The 2.7-meter-wide container that will transport the first VoloCity to Rome will leave Munich on 26 October. The next day it will be shown for the first time at Fiumicino airport, while from 2 to 5 November it will be in Piazza San Silvestro, a few meters from Palazzo Chigi. The first flight, it was said, is expected in 2024 in line with the construction of the Fiumicino vertiport. 2024 is not just any year: the Olympics are in Paris and the event pushes France to arrive first. But Italy is already well underway. At an economic-financial level, the game is led by Atlantia, which has already invested 15 million in the fourth fundraiser promoted by Volocopter: there are also BlackRock, Hitachi, Geely, Intel, Continental and Japan Airlines. The operational level is instead entrusted to Aeroporti di Roma, a subsidiary of Atlantia, which is carrying out the project for the vertiport in collaboration with ENAC and ENAV.
Travel on board of aero-taxis will be regulated. At the European level, EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, is thinking about it and Adr is actively participating in this work. “Within the first months of next year – explains Ivan Bassato, Adr’s chief aviation officer – the first guidelines on the construction of vertical ports will arrive. The consultation phase with the Member States will lead to a national transitional rule and then to a European regulation. We hope that the process of harmonizing the rules can be closed in 2023 ”. But as Bassato himself explains, it will not be necessary to wait for the regulation to start the flight tests and perhaps even for the first commercial activities of aero-taxis given that Enac will be able to issue the relative authorizations.
It is certain that we must coordinate with other countries, but also with other flight systems, such as drones that do not carry people or at most objects. “A lot of work is needed in organizing the airspace – says Adr’s manager – but also in thinking about how other aircraft using the same space will have to separate from aero-taxis, also because the latter will fly much lower than airplanes. “.
Then there is the market. According to the EASA ranking, Rome is the third European metropolis for the development capacity of this new form of mobility.
The continental market for urban air mobility will reach 4.2 billion dollars in 2030 and will allow the creation of 90 thousand jobs. The average time saving (15-40 minutes on a city-airport transfer), also for the transport of medical material between two hospitals (-73%) is the substantial advantage, together with the environmental component since the drones that will transport people will eliminate emissions. It will be a market that will obviously have to structure itself. Elisabetta De Bernardi, European investment director of Atlantia explains: “There is a complete alignment of private companies so that we can start as soon as possible and arrive at the effective commercialization of the service in three years: we do not expect it to suddenly become the mode travel, there will be a bit slow growth at the beginning, but the market will become important in 2030-2040 ”.
The aero-taxi service will not be niche, even in terms of costs. According to an EASA research, 83% of the participants have a positive attitude towards urban air mobility. Meanwhile, we start with a close look at the drone that will make us travel like a taxi.
Source: Huffington Post Italy Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.it.
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