Paris tests flying taxi tech ahead of 2024 Olympics
The French capital is developing Europe’s first ‘vertiport’ for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVOTL) aircraft, such as air taxis.
Skyports, a developer and operator of vertiports, is working on the programme with French airport operator Groupe ADP, among other organisations, as a step towards launching commercial services in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
This is the first development of its kind in Europe and is supported by the French Civil Aviation Authority and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
Skyports will design, build and operate the take-off and landing area at Cergy-Pontoise Airfield, northwest of Paris. Group ADP said the site, which will initially serve as a tech testbed, would become a “unique ecosystem” for trialling new sustainable air mobility and is “unprecedented” in Europe.
Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP chairman and CEO, said: “[The airfield] will function as a concrete experiment to explore the field of possibilities of a decarbonised and innovative aviation, and to develop the low altitude aviation market – below 300 metres – which has been largely unexplored until now.
The test vertiport will be equipped with a suite of technologies, including biometric identity management, re-charging equipment, situational awareness capabilities and weather stations.
Skyports said that the data collected during the testing phase will be essential for the development of advanced air mobility regulatory frameworks.
eVOTL manufacturers such as Volocopter, Vertical Aerospace, Airbus, Pipistrel, eHang and others will use the site to conduct their own tests over the next three years.
The vertiport will be constructed using modular technology, which means it can be relocated to a new location at the end of the programme.
Progress in the UK
As the testbed in Paris gets underway, Skyports is also laying the groundwork for flying taxis in the UK.
London’s £7bn Brent Cross regeneration recently announced that its developers have teamed up with Skyports to build a passenger air taxi vertiport at Brent Cross Town.
They plan to build an interim vertiport “as early as 2024”, with a permanent location installed later this decade.
The first commercial passenger flights in the UK could take off by 2025, Skyports has said.