German air taxi developer Volocopter was among a group of sector companies that successfully tested the integration and use of traditional air traffic management (ATM) technology with new uncrewed traffic management (UTM) platforms designed to orchestrate the flight of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) planes.
The trials took place at the Pontoise airfield in suburban Paris, where a variety of European companies have been working with regional airport management group ADP to prepare for the expected 2024 launch of air taxi services. The week-long project tested the operation of existing ATM systems that crewed planes rely on alongside emerging UTM technologies that remotely or automated craft like Volocopter eVTOLs will use.
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Other principal participants were Pipistrel – maker of the type certified, piloted Velis Electro battery powered plane – and M3, which produces the remotely piloted Boreal craft. The trials were held under the broader CORUS-XUAM program funded by the European Union’s Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking initiative.
The tests – the third in a longer series to prepare for air taxi and other eVTOL services – involved dry runs through a trio of real-life scenarios in which Velis Electro flights linked to existing ATM systems, and Volocopter and Boreal operations using UTM, are forced to alter their routes due to unexpected events.
The first of those involved a scheduled landing or takeoff spot becoming unavailable and forcing a flight diversion when another craft is given priority. The second diversion resulted from an airport or vertiport suddenly closing, and the third by two craft being identified as on the same flight path. The Velis Electro operated at higher altitudes using ATM links, while the Boreal and Volocopter 2X eVTOL flew using UTM at about 30 meters of altitude.
The tests proving the integration compatibility of ATM and UTM systems marked another step toward expected launch of air taxi services in 2024, which organizers of the Paris Summer Olympics are planning to highlight using Volocopter eVTOL and other next generation aircraft.
Read: Volocopter makes first crewed flight of its 2X eVTOL in France
The German company hailed the successful trials as another chapter in its efforts to pioneer development and eventual deployment of sustainable, efficient, and safe aviation technologies.
“Volocopter is pleased to have completed another successful flight test within the SESAR CORUS-XUAM project,” said Volocopter chief risk and certification officer Oliver Reinhardt. “Back in 2019, when we first tested the 2X ATM integration at Helsinki airport, we were actively involved in the development of the European U-Space Concept of Operations. Building an efficient ecosystem around UAM is Volocopter’s mission, and connecting ATM/UTM integration with our digital platform, VoloIQ, is poised to be an integral part of bringing UAM to megacities worldwide. I am looking forward to the next CORUS-XUAM test flights later this year in Germany and what we can achieve there.”