Tech

First tests approved for an electric flying taxi

flying taxi

A Volocopter unmanned air taxi transport flies over Marina Bay during a test flight with a safety pilot at the 26th Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Singapore on October 22, 2019. Photo: AFP / Roslan Rahman

The German company Volocopter has succeeded in an important step. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) permit, issued on 24 June for its VC200-2 UAV, will allow the company to conduct test flights at Pontoise Airport, located in the Val d’Oise region outside Paris.

This is excellent news for the manufacturer after the demonstration flight of its Volocopter 2X at the Paris Air Forum. This is the first such authorization from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which expects to receive many other requests as the number of flying taxi cab projects in Europe increases.

The certificate scheme allows drone manufacturers and operators to obtain a design verification from the Agency before the conditional permit is accepted or denied.

Volocopter filed the request for its VC200-2, May 31st. It is actually worth noting the speed of the agency’s response, and it only takes three weeks to examine and then accept the application. Patrick Ky, EASA’s CEO, said on the agency’s website: “The short time required to issue the design verification report shows that EASA is able to develop flexible tools tailored to the risk of drone operation and market needs.”

EASA is already working on rules

The German company can now operate its drone in a clearly demarcated low-risk area, but possibly near more confined spaces. The VC 200-2 is a prototype of the Volocopter that integrates a technological component that enables autonomous flight.

These kinds of technological components or modules are basic elements such as operating systems or databases. These “building blocks” are then assembled according to a predefined model to provide a technological function. Here it is autonomous flight.

While the news is largely positive, EASA is already looking at future rules regarding traffic, ecology, safety and noise. There is still a long way to go before these autonomous flying taxis can be used in urban areas due to constraints in terms of safety, population, obstacles and traffic regulation.

Between now and 2024, anything may still be possible for the Olympics, but it would be surprising to see flying taxis in the city sky before the end of the decade. IB

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