Groupe ADP, Skyports, and Volocopter officially opened Europe’s first fully integrated vertiport terminal for the urban air mobility (UAM) sector at the Groupe ADP, RATP Group, and Choose Paris Region-run Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airport. As a result of the facility’s ability to conduct advanced testing of crucial technology and passenger procedures, the terminal’s opening marks the beginning of a new era for urban air mobility.
Urban air mobility is a brand-new branch of environmentally friendly aviation with a wide range of applications that will give cities and regions an alternate method of moving people and cargo. Successfully introducing a new kind of mobility necessitates industry-wide cooperation as well as the backing of authorities at all levels of government. The electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturers, providers of physical and digital infrastructure, policymakers, the technological supply chain, cities, governments, the general public, and many more are all part of the UAM ecosystem. A variety of stakeholders can test technologies and processes in various configurations in a real-world setting thanks to the fully integrated testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles. The chance to test on an actual airport is priceless and crucial to the growth of the entire business.
The aircraft-neutral testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles was created by Skyports in association with Groupe ADP and gives the entire ecosystem the opportunity to test and advance their innovations. Most significantly, it makes it easier for key ecosystem players including innovators in technology, regulators, and regional partners like the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), suppliers, and airlines to collaborate. It will make it possible to test:
- Procedures for ground movement, charging, and vehicle integration
- Flight planning, knowledge of the environment, and information sharing
- Passenger flow through the terminal, including check-in and security procedures, passenger dwell time, and airplane boarding using biometric technologies (supplied by SITA
The opening event offered a chance to show off the complete passenger journey, from arrival at the vertiport terminal through boarding the aircraft. At the launch, a crewed test flight of the 2X model, the only aircraft currently permitted by DGAC for eVTOL test flights in France, was shown alongside a model of the VoloCity, which is being developed as Volocopter’s first approved aircraft for commercial services. The series of demos by Skyports and Volocopter included displays of digital operating systems, such as the VoloIQ and vertiport operating systems from Skyports, as well as flight monitoring capabilities.
The largest technology-enabled test facility for UAM in Europe is currently the Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield. 30 ecosystem partners make up the innovation consortium, which was founded by Groupe ADP, Choose Paris Region, and RATP Group. France is now at the forefront of UAM development as a result of it. The collaboration concentrates on a variety of issues, such as vehicle development, vertiport infrastructure, airspace integration, and public acceptance, to help the industry develop.
Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP Chairman and CEO, said: “In Pontoise-Cormeilles, we are taking a new decisive step in the development of electric air mobility. 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.”
Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said: “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. 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.”
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter, said: “Introducing a new kind of mobility like UAM can only be done successfully with a closely knit, yet open ecosystem. 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.”
Marie-Claude Dupuis, Strategy, Sustainable Development and Real Estate Director RATP Group, said: “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.”
Valérie Pécresse, President of the Paris Region, said: “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. 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.”