Leading urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft manufacturer, Volocopter, has announced its long-serving CEO, Florian Reuter, will be stepping down in September and make way for former Airbus Defense and Space boss, Dirk Hoke.
Reuter, who over the past seven years led Volocopter from a seven-person start-up to one of the world’s most promising UAM developers with a staff of 500, has decided to leave the company as it readies itself for the planned launch of air taxi services during the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Earlier this month, the company raised $170 million in additional funding designed to provide it the financial muscle to prepare the debut of UAM services in Paris, Europe, and around the globe.
Reuter, who informed Volocopter’s advisor board last summer of his desire to step away from the top job, will stay on to prepare for the handover to Hoke in September.
The former CEO of Airbus Defence & Space and Siemens veteran, Hoke will bring considerable technical, strategic, and commercial chops to the Bruchsal-based company. In its announcement, Volocopter stressed Hoke’s success in navigating those groups through digitalization and transformation periods amid the rapid evolution of data and communications tech.
“Out of an impressive lineup of candidates, Dirk Hoke was our absolute preferred choice,” said Stefan Klocke, chair of Volocopter’s advisory board. “Combining our success with Dirk’s experience and vision for our company, Volocopter will continue to lead the emerging industry and successfully master the coming phase of growth and commercialization.”
Reuter’s direction and influence as Volocopter chief cannot be overstated. In addition to building the startup into a leading global UAM aircraft developer, he attracted over $600 million in financing, and leaves the company as a market unicorn with an estimated valuation of $1.7 billion. In stepping down as Volocopter prepares a two-year sprint towards expected air taxi launch in Paris, Reuter passes the baton to a trusted successor.
“I have known Dirk for a number of years and am convinced that his experience and leadership style are a perfect match for the strategy and culture at Volocopter, which is why I put his name forward to the Board,” Reuter said. “It has been an incredible privilege and honor to serve as Volocopter CEO to a world-class team from across the globe. It is thanks to every single one of them that Volocopter continues to lead air taxi development. I’m proud of the team and wish Dirk all the best on the great Volocopter journey ahead.”
Taking the commands of Volocopter as it prepares to fly into UAM services is a task Hoke promised he will rise to.
“Bringing electric air taxis to market in the next years is a dream come true not only for me but for many,” Hoke said. “My experience from Airbus and Siemens will help us monetize on the leading market position Volocopter has achieved under Florian’s leadership. Volocopter’s product lineup, its certification progress, team spirit, and ecosystem approach put us in a unique competitive position.”
Founded in 2011, Volocopter has been developing electrically powered UAM aircraft around the passenger VoloCity and VoloConnect vehicles, and freight-carrying VoloDrone. It has obtained both design and production organization approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency – the only electric vertical takeoff and landing manufacturer to do so thus far.