DALLAS – The first crewed electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) flight took place in Italian airspace on October 6.
The test flight departed from a special vertiport constructed at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO), the country’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) testing vertiport. It is part of a two-day event to demonstrate what a service between FCO and the city center might look like as the airport works closely with Volocopter toward introducing a regular service by 2024.
German eVTOL company Volocopter provided the electric aircraft, the Volocopter 2X, which flew for five minutes at a height of just 40 meters. The demonstration allowed interested parties, such as Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, Aeroporto di Venezia (SAVE), and Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna, plus Volocopter’s various stakeholders, to see how the air taxi service could work.
Fiumicino’s Groundbreaking Vertiport
Volocopter’s maiden flight also marked the first time FCO’s new vertiport had been used. Developed under the watchful eye of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), it has been built ‘to host various types of tests for both flight and ground operations (turnaround, battery charging, etc.), with an electric system devised to allow testing of various eVTOL charging technologies (battery swaps, fast charging, etc).’
The vertiport occupies an area of around 5,500 square feet, complete with a final approach, landing and take-off area (FATO), and an aircraft parking zone. A covered hangar is also included, complete with an office, a warehouse, and a battery charging area.
During the demonstration, Volocopter displayed its branded VoloIQ digital platform at the vertiport. VoloIQ is designed to support everything from booking to managing flight operations and will help support the scaling up of AAM worldwide.
“A Significant Milestone”
Speaking of the momentous occasion, Marco Troncone, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma, said, “Today’s event represents a significant milestone in our path as pioneers in testing and implementing Advanced Air Mobility in Italy and in playing our part in making urban transport increasingly sustainable and seamless.”
“The opening of the first vertiport in Italy and the first crewed eVTOL flight represent a remarkable step towards the activation of the first AAM routes between Fiumicino airport and Rome city center by the end of 2024, ahead of the Jubilee, to offer our contribution to our city and our institutions in welcoming the international tourist flows with a ground-breaking, innovative service.”
Volocopter was established in 2011 by Alexander Zosel and Stephan Wolf to develop air taxi services using electric multi-rotor helicopters.
The company’s Chief Commercial Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Christian Bauer, said, “We’ve come from a signed partnership agreement and event series kickoff to a flight test at an operational airport in a little less than a year. With that, we are bringing together all the key stakeholders and regulators to witness this mobility service and technology with their own eyes.”
Featured Image: Volocopter seen approaching FCO’s new vertiport. Photo: Volocopter.