A prototype of German aviation startup Volocopter’s electrical air taxi went on display at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Wednesday (October 27), as the airport looks ahead to 2024 when they hope the public will be able to travel on the battery-powered passenger aircraft.
The flying taxi ‘VoloCity’, which looks like a tiny helicopter, has an electrical vertical take off and landing in so-called ‘vertiports’. It has a luggage compartment and a capacity of two people on board, giving travellers an emission-free way to beat traffic.
It runs on 18 motors that are powered by nine rechargeable batteries. Volocopter says it is four times quieter than an actual helicopter.
Atlantia’s Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) hopes it will be operational in three years and able to take passengers from Fiumicino to the centre of the Eternal City in around 15 minutes – a journey that takes around 45 minutes by taxi without bad traffic.
AdR CEO Marco Trancone said a ticket could cost around 150 euro for a one-way trip.
“150 euros may be a reasonable price which should be sustainable in order to cover the costs for this service and also will be certainly a great value for money because of course the connection will be very swift, the time for connection will be probably 15 minutes, maybe a bit more, of course much less than what you would do with a normal taxi,” he said.
“It will be a silent journey and it will be a fully sustainable journey because of course it will be an electrical vehicle charged with green energy, so the level of emission will be zero.”
The showcase comes a day after airports in the Italian cities of Rome, Venice and Bologna and on the French Riviera announced they had teamed up to create a company to build and manage infrastructures for flying taxis.
The infrastructure, also known as vertiports, will be used to deploy the flying taxis, offering a new way for travellers to beat traffic and hop between cities.
The company, called Urban Blue, said it will be open to other industrial, technology and financial partners for the gradual expansion of the project in Italy, France and elsewhere. They are partnering with Volocopter and will be supported by investment fund EDF Invest.
“Urban Blue is a platform that is open also to other airports who want to join with the aim to develop the urban mobility throughout Italy, France and even more. We at Atlantia believe that urban air mobility is going to be extremely important and is really a changer in the habits of mobility in cities at first and then between cities,” said Atlantia’s Investor Director for Europe, Elisabetta De Bernardi.
Rome is seen as the third most suitable city for the development of what is known as urban air mobility (UAM) in Europe, a study by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency showed.