With the launch of the Re.Invent Air Mobility call for interest, mobility players in the Ile-de-France region are mobilizing themselves with regulatory agencies to structure an urban air mobility ecosystem. This initiative aims to identify the ideal international partners to boost the deployment of an urban air mobility solution that will enable the region to shine in the eyes of the world during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Air taxis have never been so close to taking off and turning from concept to reality. In this article, we introduce 5 concepts that could become the future air taxis of Paris.
Re.Invent Air Mobility, to do what?
This initiative is supported by 3 key players in the Ile de France mobility ecosystem: the group “Aéroports de Paris”, RATP and the Ile-de-France region. The main objective of this initiative is to create an ecosystem around urban air mobility in the Ile-de-France region and to catalyze the deployment of an air taxi project by making funds and infrastructure available. The initiators of this initiative are acting as facilitators by bringing together the future key players in this ecosystem: from the inventor of concepts to the creator of applications to facilitate access to urban air mobility services, not forgetting players involved in cybersecurity or air traffic management.
The first phase of this initiative aims to identify the ideal partners of the region according to 5 key areas related to the current challenges of urban air mobility:
- A support to the development of concepts or on-board technologies
- The development of ground infrastructures : vertiports, charging or maintenance infrastructures
- Facilitating the integration of flying taxis into airspace through cybersecurity, communication or surveillance
- A support to operations through the development of digital platforms for users or operators
- The improvement of societal acceptability through acoustic, environmental or socio-economic impact measurements
A major strength of this initiative, which makes it even more credible, is that it is supported by regulatory authorities such as Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Indeed, the current lack of regulation is a major obstacle to the development of urban air mobility!
What concepts in the sky of Ile-de-France region?
There are many start-ups and major companies around the world that are developing air taxi concepts. We present here 5 concepts, whose level of maturity is compatible with a demonstrator during the Paris Olympics, which could have their place in the Parisian sky of tomorrow:
The German Volocopter concept is one of the most mature in the world. It has carried out several demonstration flights in real conditions, notably in Dubai and Helsinki. This electric urban air mobility concept will be able to carry a total of 2 passengers at the most. Its top speed is 110 km/h and its range is 35 km. It should be on the market in 2023. It is especially noteworthy that the company is concurrently developing ground infrastructure concepts to facilitate passenger boarding, charging and maintenance.
Uber, a world leader in ground mobility, also wants to become a leader in the urban air mobility sector. The American company does not position itself as a manufacturer, but has on-going partnerships with 8 manufacturers, including Joby Aviation and Bell. The concept of Uber will have a full capacity of 4 passengers and a pilot. It will be able to fly at a speed of 240 km/h over approximately 100 km. Uber has also announced the ambition to launch its service as early as 2023 in Australia and the United States.
Bell, the American helicopter manufacturer, wants to position itself in this market with its hybrid-electric concept. This choice of engine is a differentiator from the competition and enables it to extend its range from 100 km to about 250 km. This concept should carry 4 passengers and a pilot at a top speed of 240 km/h.
The concept of the German start-up Lilium made its first demonstration flights in 2019. It is scheduled to be commercially available in 2025, which seems a little short of the 2024 Olympics. This concept will be able to carry 4 passengers and a pilot. Its top speed is 300 km/h and its range is about 1 hour. Because of these characteristics, this concept seems rather suitable for passenger transport between cities rather than within the same city, which would be compatible with the development of shuttles between airports and city centers.
The Californian concept has been in the development phase for the past 10 years and is expected to be commercially available in 2023. The start-up, supported by Toyota and Uber, offers a concept that can carry 4 passengers at a speed of 320 km/h over 240 km and is particularly well adapted for longer distances.
When these urban air mobility concepts will be in the Parisian sky? The winners will be selected by the end of this year and will have the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in mind. They will have the chance to take advantage of this showcase to unveil their concept to the eyes of the world. The goal is to have a demonstrator ready for the Olympics and a urban air mobility service that can then be deployed by 2030. Alcimed will therefore continue to closely follow this promising initiative, which really has all the assets to make the Ile-de-France region one of the world leaders in the mobility of tomorrow.
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About the author
Guillaume, Project Manager in Alcimed’s Energy Environment & Mobility team in France
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Copyright image : Aéroports de Paris