"40 WORDS TELL A MAJOR STORY
CHRIS STONOR JANUARY 26, 2023
It's pretty clear that Volocopter will be the main eVTOL aircraft on display at the Paris 2024 Olympics given that the German company is the leading European player. Whether it will be demonstration flights or, as many hope, actual commercial trips for athletes and the public, who knows. Even so, this is only speculation as Volocopter remains discreet.
Yet over the weekend, the company tweeted this. In fact, they are so proud of the news, it's now a pinned tweet.
Read between the 40 words and two factors emerge. First, with President Macron's blessing, Volocopter will fly over Paris in July 2024 during the Olympics. Second, this event appears to be the official launch chosen for the company's eVTOL, Volocity.
In a second tweet posted three days later, Volocopter thanked all the major German companies met at the Elysee Palace during Macron's meeting, where industry support was everything for such an ambitious and revolutionary plan.
In this spirit, speculation turns into fact. Well, 99% of the facts anyway, especially when Willi Tacke, founder of eFlight Journal, which holds a source of aeronautical knowledge, said at this week's U.S. Vertical Flight Society symposium that EASA has confirmed that it not only fully supports Volocopter re: the Paris Olympics, but said that even if the Volocity has not completed its full certification process, the regulator will still give it a permit to fly over the city during the Games.
Of course, eVTOL will require take-off and landing sites to achieve this. Transforming heliports into vertiports near the Seine is a natural step. For safety reasons, flying over the Seine as the main and possibly only flight path for Volocity in 2024 must be absolute. Even so, is it possible for eVTOL infrastructure companies to build a vertiport specifically for the Games?
In an evtolinsights.com interview last June with Damian Kysely, Skyports' head of Europe and the Middle East, he suggests that the vertiport currently being tested at Europe's main eVTOL testbed, Cergy-Pontoise Airport, could be moved to Paris for the Games because it is transportable.
The ADP Group (Paris Airport) has stated that there will be at least three different vertiports located in the Paris region during the Games. Where would they be?" Kysely replied, "I believe a majority will be located at existing airfields owned by ADP or at heliports around Paris. We may still be involved in the construction of some, we're in the middle of discussions, but as ADP owns, controls and operates the proposed venues, a number will certainly exist during the Games. There are one or two Greenfield sites in central Paris, based in a non-aeronautical environment, that are currently under consideration.
And when asked, "Do you know where the confirmed locations are in Paris?" He replied, "I have been told, but I am not yet authorized to divulge this news. Some of them will be located in the center of Paris and some will be near the Olympic Village."
As for the feasibility of actual commercial flights, Kelsey said, "I am 100% confident that there will be a large number of eVTOL demonstrations in the skies over Paris during the Games, but whether there will be passengers on board is another matter. The objective is to provide commercial services. It all depends on how many eVTOLs have achieved full certification by then. It is very attractive to companies that have done so, as it offers first-to-market potential. What I've seen and heard in the discussions, everything will be done to make commercial flights happen."
(Image credit: AirNova)
Another dizzying infrastructure company, French start-up AirNova, announced last week its intention to create a network of sites in France. Currently, about 20 potential locations are being evaluated.
A company spokesperson told Avionics International, "We plan to develop partnerships with European players to expand AirNova's vertiport coverage in several European countries, initially bordering France. Our rooftop Vertiport projects are new constructions that meet the specifications in line with the DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority), DSAC (Direction de la sécurité de l'aviation civile) and EASA." AirNova also has ambitious plans to build 20 new global vertiports per year.
Is AirNova another potential competitor for the Paris Olympics eVTOL infrastructure?