Flying without wings - Electronic aircraft for short-range, urban missions!


Flying without wings

When thinking about ‘tech’ in aviation, phrases like blockchain, biometrics, personalisation and apps are bound to be the first words that pop into your mind.

Not e-vehicles.

But that’s exactly how Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter sees his company and their eponymous rotorcraft.

“Volocopter is a tech company with aviation at heart, and we’re moving forward at breathtaking speeds,” he told the crowds at the 2019 edition of the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE), where the transformative power of eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) was on full display.

Why eVTOL for business aviation?

eVTOL aircraft are classified as electric and hybrid-electric aircraft that are large enough to carry passengers without conventional helicopter flight controls. There are different types, including vectored thrust, hover bikes, electric rotorcraft, lift & cruise, and wingless aircraft – Volocopter fitting directly into the latter category.

The defining features of the most recent Volocopter model, as a wingless (multicopter) aircraft, are what make it a great complement to traditional business aircraft: an air taxi with a 22-mile range, 400 pounds of payload capacity and a quiet operating system, designed specifically for short-range, urban missions. Reuter sees his first use case as being a shuttle for business passengers from airports (like Teterboro in New Jersey or London Luton) to final destinations in nearby city centres.

Since earning provisional licensing for the two-seater Volocopter from the German Aviation Authorities, the company has moved on to finalizing a Special Condition certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for light VTOL aircraft.

eVTOL and the fight against emissions

As views on climate change challenge different industries to find innovative, more sustainable solutions, it is not only the public that has to learn to accept and adapt (naturally not everyone is able to sail to conferences like Greta Thunberg, though we applaud her initiative!).

“EASA knows this technology is coming and they have to adapt to it,” said Reuter, adding that the agency has been constructive, straightforward and innovative in its own right when working with Volocopter.

In the eVTOL space, you’ll see a Cambrian explosion of new vehicle concepts.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter

According to Grant Shapps, the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport – this will to work towards an eVTOL system is mainly because perceptions of aviation will continue to be shaped by the shift against emissions, giving way to the acceptance and implementation of greener options in the industry as political pressure rises. This acceptance is necessary, as new vehicle and transport options need, besides licensing and certifications, infrastructure and zoning to ensure successful implementation in society, something that Reuter’s team has already conceptualized.

If Volocopter and other eVTOL innovators have anything to do with it, the industry will get there. As predicted by Reuters, “In the eVTOL space, you’ll see a Cambrian explosion of new vehicle concepts.”

Advances in technology are changing a multitude of sectors – and aviation is no exception. Coupled with the push for a greener economy, eVTOL aircraft are perfectly aligned with current trends poised to disrupt traditional industries and provide efficiency boosts for cities in the future. As such business aviation continues to find ways to deliver quick and safe alternative modes of transport, with less environmental impact.