(Adds information on Airbus new CityAirbus eVTOL)
Urban air mobility (UAM) company Volocopter and Aerofugia, a subsidiary of China’s Geely Technology Group, announced the finalisation of their joint venture (JV) company to introduce UAM in China. Operating under Volocopter (Chengdu) Technology Co., LTD (Volocopter Chengdu), the JV has signed an agreement to purchase 150 Volocopter aircraft. Geely Holding Group’s CEO, Daniel Li Donghui, has joined Volocopter’s Advisory Board. In April 2021, Geely and Volocopter confirmed that they would form a joint venture to introduce the new mode of transportation to China. Both companies will jointly participate in the Zhuhai Airshow from 28 September to 3 October.
The JV, headquartered in Chengdu, will work closely with the aviation, transportation, and government agencies in Chengdu and other parts of mainland China to bring urban air mobility to China within the next three to five years. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province and a significant economic, cultural, and transportation hub in Western China. It is also a key manufacturing base for Geely – one of many great synergies the JV will profit from on top of Geely’s production capability and industrial distribution expertise. At the opening ceremony, Volocopter also signed a Contract Manufacturing Agreement with Volocopter Chengdu and General Aviation Manufactory Base of Geely Technology to produce Volocopter’s aircraft and parts in China. This production agreement will strategically satisfy the fast-growing demand for air taxi services after commercial launch in China.
“Geely has been a valuable partner since they became our strategic investor in 2019. Today marks another important milestone on our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the UAM industry,” said Florian Reuter, CEO, Volocopter. “With the joint venture company up and running and Daniel Li Donghui as the new Geely representative on our Advisory Board, we are in pole position to introduce air taxi services globally in a safe, sustainable, and practical manner.”
Jing Chao, chairman of Volocopter Chengdu, said “With its establishment, Volocopter Chengdu can accelerate the deployment of air taxis and UAM business. UAM is an important part of the new aviation industry, which coincides with Aerofugia’s technical route and business plan of ‘new energy, vertical landing and take-off, and autonomous driving.’ As an investor for both Aerofugia and Volocopter, Geely looks forward to Volocopter Chengdu realising urban air mobility in the near future.”
UAM refers to a new mode of urban transportation that uses electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to move people or goods within lower urban and suburban airspaces. It helps relieve the strain on increasingly congested city roads and allows people and goods to reach their destinations faster and safely.
Airbus reveals the next generation of CityAirbus
Airbus has announced plans for a new CityAirbus at the company’s first #AirbusSummit on “Pioneering Sustainable Aerospace” as the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market begins to firm up. Ushering in the next generation of CityAirbus, the fully electric vehicle is equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electrically powered propellers as part of its uniquely designed distributed propulsion system. It is designed to carry up to four passengers in a zero emissions flight in multiple applications. “We are on a quest to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility into the cities while addressing environmental and social concerns. Airbus is convinced that the real challenges are as much about urban integration, public acceptance, and automated air traffic management, as about vehicle technology and business models. We build on all of the capabilities to deliver a safe, sustainable, and fully integrated service to society,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
CityAirbus is being developed to fly with a 80 km range and to reach a cruise speed of 120km/h, making it perfectly suited for operations in major cities for a variety of missions. Sound levels are a key factor for an urban mission; Airbus’ extensive expertise in noise-friendly designs is driving CityAirbus’ sound levels below 65 dB(A) during fly-over and below 70 dB(A) during landing. It is optimised for hover and cruise efficiency, while not requiring moving surfaces or tilting parts during transition. The CityAirbus NextGen meets the highest certification standards (EASA SC-VTOL Enhanced Category). Designed with simplicity in mind, CityAirbus NextGen will offer best-in-class economic performance in operations and support.
Airbus is benefitting from years of dedicated research, innovation, two electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) demonstrators, and development on sound technology across its portfolio of products, as well as decades of experience in certifying aircraft. The Vahana and CityAirbus demonstrators have jointly conducted 242 flight and ground tests and have flown around 1,000 km in total. Furthermore, Airbus has used extensive subscale flight testing and wind tunnel campaigns and has leveraged its computing and modelling power. CityAirbus NextGen is in a detailed design phase right now and the prototype’s first flight is planned for 2023.