Le Bourget, France (Associated Press) – At first just a speck on the horizon, the electric boat, surprisingly silent as a bug, soars above Paris and traffic jams, leaving passengers undoubtedly in awe. with a privileged view of the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral. Admire the city’s signature zinc-grey roofs before slowly hovering downwards to land. Therefore, if all goes according to plan, a new page in aviation history could be written.
After years of dreamy but not always believable tales of pollution-free electric taxis flying in the skies, the aviation industry has a future that it claims is just around the corner. We are preparing to implement it.
The Paris region will take advantage of this moment of global attention to launch small flying electric taxis on multiple routes in time for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer. I’m planning to Unless Chinese aviation regulators give the go-ahead to a two-seater driverless taxi being developed in Paris and beat Paris, if European regulators give the OK, Germany, the future operator of the French capital, Volocopter may fly taxis commercially for the first time.
Volocopter CEO Dirk Hawke, former CEO of aerospace giant Airbus, has VVIP in mind as the first passenger in Paris, and it’s none other than Emmanuel Macron. French president.
“It would be very nice,” Hawke said at the Paris Air Show this week. At the show, he and other electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) developers competed with industry heavyweights for attention.
“He believes in innovation in urban air mobility,” Hawke said of Macron. “It will be a strong signal for Europe that the president is taking off.”
But with or without Mr. Macron aboard, these pioneering first flights are still small for a nascent industry that must make a giant leap before flying taxis overtake their ground-based competitors. It would be just one step.
The limited capacity of battery technology limits the range and number of paying passengers that can be transported, making eVTOL hops likely to be short and expensive to begin with.
The vision of smashing urban traffic just by zooming in is compelling, but it also depends on advances in airspace management. The eVTOL makers want to expand their fleet into urban areas and more niche routes for luxury travelers, such as the French Riveria. But flying taxis are colliding with each other, already crowding the skies, or anything else that’s expected to hit taxis in huge numbers, including millions of drones, in the next decade. They are leaping technologically so as not to clash with
Starting with existing helicopter routes, “we will continue to use machine learning to see if our airspace can handle it, and leverage AI to continue to scale,” said Archer Aviation’s Billy Nollen. said Mr. Newark’s Liberty Airport in 2025. What would normally take an hour by train or old-fashioned taxi can be done in less than 10 minutes with a sleek, four-passenger electric prototype, Archer said.
Nolen previously served as acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. regulator, and had already worked with NASA on technology to safely separate air taxis during his tenure there. Much like Paris is using the Olympics to test air taxis, the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics will provide new goals for the industry to aim for, transporting ever-growing numbers of passengers to safe, clean and affordable It shows that the price can fly, Nolen said.
“By 2028, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of eVTOLs,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press at the Paris show.
The Volocopter’s “very small” experiment, which was expected at the Paris Games, is “great stuff. Hats off to them,” he added. “But from 2028 onwards, there will be full-scale rollouts in major cities around the world.”
But while the industry paints a revolutionary new era beginning in the city that sparked the French Revolution of 1789, some aviation analysts believe eVTOL will be readily affordable, ubiquitous, and convenient. It has not embraced the vision of becoming an alternative to vehicles. in the not too distant future.
And even some of the eVTOL developers who spoke bullishly about the industry’s prospects at the Paris show predicted that rivals would run out of money before even bringing prototypes to market.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimate the industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2040 and $9 trillion by 2050, thanks to advances in battery and propulsion technology. Analysts said most of the new aircraft won’t be ready until 2035 or later because of the difficulty in getting them certified by U.S. and European regulators.
“The idea of urban mass transit remains a fascinating fantasy of the 1950s,” says Richard Aboulafia of aerospace consultancy Aerodynamic Advisory.
“The real problem is that mortals like you and me don’t have regular or exclusive access to a $4 million car. You and I can get an air taxi right now. increase.”
Still, as the Olympians go faster, higher, and stronger, an electric taxi in the skies of Paris might have the power to surprise — happily Volocopter hopes.
One of the five routes planned for the Olympics was to land in the center of the city on a platform floating on the river Seine. Ride-hailing apps and electric scooters also once seemed quirky to many customers, developers say. And like these technologies, some are betting that early adopters of air taxis will encourage others to try them out.
“This will be a whole new experience for people,” said Volocopter CEO Hawke. “But 20 years later, somebody looks back on what has changed based on that and calls it a revolution. And I think we are on the brink of the next revolution.”
Associated Press writer David Koenig contributed from Dallas.
Details of AP communications regarding the Paris Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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