Volocopter flies South Korea’s first public crewed air taxi trial

Volocopter UAM Microsoft

German advanced air mobility company Volocopter says it has conducted South Korea’s first crewed air taxi test flight in public as part of the country’s push to launch commercial services in 2026.

Volocopter revealed it flew its S2 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft earlier today at Gimpo International Airport, the first public demonstration of a crewed air taxi vehicle in the country. The company said the flight lasted a total of five minutes, covering around three kilometers. It noted the aircraft reached a top speed of 45 km/h, and a peak altitude of 50 meters above ground.

The trial flight was part of an event hosted by South Korea’s Ministry for Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MLIT) called “Open the Urban Sky.” It came just a month after MLIT announced its intention to introduce commercial air taxi services by the end of 2025, start testing automated flights in 2030, and seek to authorize pilotless operations by 2035.

As part of that, the MLIT will oversee construction of the country’s first vertiports, initially focusing on main transportation hubs in Seoul. Among the first services to be offered will be air taxi shuttles between the capital and Gimpo and Incheon airports serving it. Officials are also planning to establish flight corridors for air taxis and other urban air mobility (UAM) planes with an altitude range from 300 to 600 feet. 

The public test flight by Volocopter marked a milestone in South Korea’s drive to speed preparations for UAM services as alternatives to its increasingly congested road systems – just one of the next-generation transport objectives within MLIT’s wider K-UAM framework.

It was also a major step for Volocopter’s effort to establish a leading role in promoting air taxi services – and its own aircraft – around the world. The flight at Gimpo Airport was its second public test flight in Asia after a 2019 trial of its 2X craft in Singapore. 

“With MOLIT’s comprehensive K-UAM roadmap, South Korea is well positioned to achieve the goal of commercializing UAM by 2025,” said Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter. “We are extremely honored 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. As the pioneers of the UAM industry, we look forward to working closely with friends and partners from both the government agencies and private sectors to make UAM a reality in South Korea.” 

Volocopter is slated to conduct a second South Korean public test flight on November 16 at Incheon International Airport, where the country’s K-UAM Confex 2021 conference will be held. South Korea is considered a potentially rich market for Volocopter passenger craft VoloCity and VoloConnect, and freight transporter VoloDrone. 

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