Urban air mobility (UAM) pioneer Volocopter has announced that it has achieved another milestone to bring UAM to life: its fixed-winged passenger aircraft, the VoloConnect, completed its first flight in May 2022.
UAM made this known on Tuesday at the UP.Summit, an annual gathering of leaders in transportation innovation.
With a range of over 60 miles and flight speeds over 155 mph, Volocopter's third product solution, the VoloConnect, is expected to deliver longer and faster journeys than any other Volocopter aircraft to date.
The passenger plane's increased range and cargo will enable business travellers and commuters to travel outside the city limits on routes such as Burbank to Huntington Beach in Los Angeles, California.
Volocopter is poised to offer a greater range of passengers' flying needs with the VoloCity and VoloConnect air taxi designs, which meet demand for metropolitan flights and suburban connections in heavily populated areas, respectively.
The VoloConnect is scheduled to go live in 2026, while the VoloCity is scheduled to go live in 2024.
Volocopter CEO, Florian Reuter said "Having a whole family of electric aircraft in the test flight phase is a pioneering feat.
"Volocopter's leadership in the industry stems from announcing plans and then delivering on them visibly with public test flights.
"Our technology platform is the foundation for our family of aircraft approach and has proven to deliver results at an astounding speed.
"Volocopter is bringing these innovative designs off the ground, into the air, and then to cities worldwide!"
The accomplishment of bringing the VoloConnect prototype to life is due to a devoted team in Munich, led by Sebastian Mores, Chief Engineer, VoloConnect.
"This is an extraordinary moment for us – seeing the VoloConnect soar to the sky marks the achievement of one of our key milestones and demonstrates just what we are capable of in a short time and in line with the company's overall strategy for crewed and uncrewed aircraft.
"Furthermore, new technologies will be tested that will gradually be implemented during the overall program development," said Mores.
According to EASA, the VoloConnect and other eVTOL aircraft were developed to meet the highest aviation safety standards (European Aviation Safety Agency).
After only 17 months in development, the prototype flew for the first time in May 2022, performing a series of manoeuvres for 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
All of the expected aerodynamics and performance elements of the future commercial model are included in the prototype.
The VoloConnect is a lift-and-cruise aircraft designed for missions outside of city limits and suburbs.
Six rotors provide vertical takeoff while two electric fans in combination with uplift-creating wings ensure high forward speeds by reducing moving components to a minimum.
Its prototype is currently undergoing a rigorous series of flight testing to ensure that the aircraft and its equipment meet performance requirements and are ready for further development.
For automated and later autonomous flights, this phase includes low-speed, transition, high-speed, and engine failure testing — all standard-issue tests for eVTOL passenger aircraft manufacturers. During the campaign's first three test flights, the crew was able to verify a major section of the eVTOL's envelope, with forward speeds of up to 40 mph and sideward speeds of up to 28 mph.
Along with its other aircraft family members, the VoloDrone and VoloCity, the VoloConnect is positioned to increase Volocopter's total potential UAM market.
There are numerous technological distinctions between the VoloCity and VoloConnect passenger aircraft.
Their distinct designs for their specific flight objectives are noteworthy, with the multirotor VoloCity air taxi prepared to service intracity routes and its larger lift-and-cruise brother focusing on longer urban and suburban operations.
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