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By Sara Dhariwal, Senior Aviation Analyst at Ascend by Cirium
Over the past five years, we have seen plenty of concepts and prototypes of eVTOLs but we have not yet observed one in flight, with a measurable distance/payload combination. There have been routes announced, but no mention of definitive timelines.
Last week, Solène Le Bris of Paris airports operator Groupe ADP stepped up the game a notch by setting a date for ambitious plans to launch the world’s first pre-commercial eVTOL service, using Volocopter’s VoloCity Air Taxi.
As a launch platform, Le Bris has chosen one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar with a global audience of over 3 billion – the 2024 Olympics, opening in Paris 26th July 2024 – only 478 days away.
The two announced routes are reasonably conservative at a range in the region of 35km with an equally conservative payload of one pilot, and one passenger.
According to the VoloCity’s design specifications as at August 2019* the vehicle will include 18 brushless DC electric motors and 9 Lithium-ion exchangeable rechargeable battery packs. It is designed to have a range of 35km and 700kgs max payload.
The design range is around the same distance as that of the planned routes from Paris to Le Bourget and the second one to Sain-Cyr, but does not leave much of a margin.
Most of the flight will be over densely populated areas, which is the same for medical flights which are also part of the plan.
In the next 478 days to 26th July 2024, Le Bris’ team will have to ensure the eVTOL design is complete, certification is achieved, air traffic control has been cleared and insurance has been secured.
Then they will have to find, at least one pilot, and a passenger.
To use the words of my colleague Rob Morris, Global Head of Consultancy, Ascend by Cirium – “I suppose we don’t need to advance opinions about whether this will happen or not, because we will know soon enough if Solène Le Bris is a realist or an idealist.”
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