Vertiport Testbed for UAM Testing Launches in Paris
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
Images courtesy Volocopter
Groupe ADP, Skyports and Volocopter have together commissioned Europe’s premier fully integrated vertiport terminal for the urban air mobility (UAM) industry at the Groupe ADP, RATP Group and Choose Paris Region-run Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield.
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The newly launched testbed allows a range of various stakeholders to test technologies and procedures in diverse configurations within a real-life environment. The ability to test on a live airfield makes the testbed an invaluable developmental asset to the entire UAM industry.
Designed together by Skyports and Groupe ADP, the aircraft agnostic testbed provides the entire UAM ecosystem with the opportunity to test and develop their technologies, while also promoting collaboration between essential ecosystem partners such as technology pioneers, regulators and local partners like the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), suppliers and airlines. The site will allow for the testing of vehicle integration, ground movement procedures, and charging procedures; flight scheduling, situational awareness, and information exchange; as well as passenger journey through the terminal, including security and check-in processes, biometric technologies (provided by SITA), passenger dwell time, and aircraft boarding.
The testbed’s launch event offered the chance to participate in a demonstration of the entire passenger journey, from arrival at the vertiport terminal to aircraft boarding. A series of demonstrations by Skyports and Volocopter included a model of Volocopter’s VoloCity, a crewed test flight of the 2X model – the only aircraft currently authorized by DGAC for eVTOL test flights in France, as well as demonstrations of flight monitoring capabilities and digital operating systems like Skyports’ vertiport operating systems and the VoloIQ.
The Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield is currently Europe’s most substantial technology-enabled UAM test site. The innovation consortium is formed by Groupe ADP, Choose Paris Region, and RATP Group, and comprises 30 ecosystem partners. Focused on a wide range of topics to facilitate the development of the industry, such as vehicle development, vertiport infrastructure, airspace integration and public acceptance, the consortium has driven France to the forefront of UAM development.
“In Pontoise-Cormeilles, we are taking a new decisive step in the development of electric air mobility,” said Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP Chairman and CEO. “The passenger terminal marks the final stage in the development of the Pontoise testbed, and the completion of a Volocopter flight fully integrated into the airfield’s airspace is the epitome of a year of very ambitious test campaigns. We are now looking ahead to 2024: the development of all use cases, including health and logistics.”
“The Pontoise-Cormeilles terminal is a physical demonstration of the fact that innovation won’t occur in isolation; it requires collaboration from a multitude of area experts, including operators, vehicle manufacturers, and technology developers, each of which have an important role to play in achieving the ultimate objective of commercial AAM services,” said Skyports CEO Duncan Walker. “With the completion of the terminal, we will now begin comprehensive testing of procedures and technologies in a realistic aviation environment, creating a space for skyports and consortium partners to accelerate the industry.”
“Introducing a new kind of mobility like UAM can only be done successfully with a closely knit, yet open ecosystem,” said Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke. “The testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles is a stellar example of ecosystem partners collaborating to accelerate the realization of UAM. We can test processes, integrate new and old systems, and simulate different operational scenarios to create trust and positive awareness of all stakeholders. Together, we will succeed in providing an additional emission-free transport option for the public. Every test is one step closer to commercialization in time for 2024.”
“This year of testing and validation has enabled us to make progress in evaluating the acceptability of these new machines and the urban insertion of vertiports. We are working together on the next steps to test the new advanced air mobility by 2024,” said Marie-Claude Dupuis, Strategy, Sustainable Development and Real Estate Director RATP Group.
“The development of low-altitude aviation for urban air mobility is an adventure full of promises – for employment, for the environment and for the lives of Paris Region residents,” said Valérie Pécresse, President of the Paris Region. “As the leading aeronautical region in France and Europe, Paris Region has all the resources to be a pioneer in this field and that is why we decided last year to support this exciting initiative financially. Just as the first plane ticket of the first airline company was purchased in 1914 in Florida, I want the first passenger flight in a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to take place in our region, Paris Region. The Olympics are an incredible opportunity to showcase and launch this project and promote the site’s experimental facilities. We will continue to support this project while remaining vigilant to ensure that the inhabitants of Paris Region benefit from it, in compliance with our decarbonization objectives, as detailed in the regional economic strategy Impact 2028.”
Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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