German Urban Air Mobility (UAM) brand, Volocopter, conducts its first crewed public air taxi flight in South Korea
Personal transport is developing at an incredibly rapid pace in recent years. From the increasing accessibility of electric cars to advancements in UAM (enabling people to take to the skies in individual personal aircraft), getting from point A to point B has never seemed so exciting. What I find the most enticing is the fact that in the next few years, flying around in what is essentially a mini helicopter for the price of a taxi ride may very well become the new normal. Readers may remember my article on Vertical Aerospace and Heathrow signing an agreement to bring VTOL taxis to the airport by this decade. These all-electric vehicles would cut down on transport time, as well as dramatically reducing emissions – all for the price of a taxi journey! Now, over in South Korea, German UAM company Volocopter have successfully performed their first manned test flight with its 2X air taxi in Seoul. This comes off the back of the company signing a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s largest mobility platform company, Kakao Mobility, enabling them to conduct a feasibility study on introducing UAM within the country. The study would determine a list of potential commercial routes, business models and operational capacities needed for any UAM operator in South Korea.
With findings expected to be released by February of next year, the study would serve to pave the way for future collaborations between both companies, following through on plans to commercialise UAM in South Korea by 2025. Commenting on the study, Kakao Mobility’s Chief Technology Officer, Seungil You, stated – “we are looking forward to expanding our partnership across the UAM industry worldwide, as well as our business as an airspace mobility platform in the future.” With future plans in place, then, Volocopter is certainly keen to demonstrate the reliability and effectiveness of its UAM craft with these recent flights, and it would seem they gave quite the impression. The company’s flights were observed by South Korea’s Minister for Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Noh Hyeong Ouk, as well as other officials from the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea, and the German Embassy. No pressure, then! But it’s water off a duck’s back for Volocopter, with their 5-minute test flight going according to plan. The 2X reached max speeds of 45km/h, and ascended to a maximum of 50 metres during this time, with no issues being encountered. Being the first ever crewed test flight of a UAM in the country, the plucky German company is certainly demonstrating a keen effort to be the primary provider of this relatively new industry in South Korea. One of the advantages of this would mean the company has priority in providing UAM tech to South Korea – a massive benefit and huge stream of revenue for any corporation. Florian Reuter, the CEO of Volocopter said “We are extremely honoured to conduct the nation’s first crewed public eVTOL test flight today and prove yet again that the future of air taxis is here and now with Volocopter’s aircraft.” Big things ahead, then, not just for Volocopter, but for the future of personal aviation.