The German aviation startup Volocopter is now accepting reservations for flights with its 18-rotor electric aircraft. This is the first time the public has been invited to fly in the company’s battery-powered vertical take-off and landing vehicle (VTOL).
Volocopter does not say exactly where or when the flights will take place. So reserve your ticket with caution. The flights will take place “within 12 months” of Volocopter’s commercial launch, which is expected in “2-3 years,” a spokesman said. Where did Volocopter conduct flight tests in Singapore, Helsinki, Dubai and its headquarters in Bruchsal, Germany ̵
Tickets cost € 300 and can be reserved with a 10 percent deposit. However, according to Volocopter, only 1,000 advance booking reservations will be made available and for a limited time only. The flight only takes 15 minutes or € 20 per minute of broadcast time.
“While the final certification for air taxis is pending, we have a detailed realistic schedule for the launch of commercial VoloCity flights in the next 2-3 years,” said Christian Bauer, Volocopter’s chief commercial officer, in a statement. “Additionally, those who reserve now can get the latest information on our progress and the commercial launch plan.”
Volocopter recently demonstrated its electric aircraft at a technology conference in Singapore. This includes a temporary “VoloPort” landing pad, which is intended to illustrate a future in which we will jump from roof to roof with electric VTOL vehicles in dense urban environments.
Volocopter’s 2X aircraft is a small, egg-like multicopter with a wide atrium of 18 rotors. It’s essentially an air taxi built to carry only one passenger at a time through traffic jams, overcrowding, and road closures. Rather than allowing high volume air travel between cities like an airport, Volocopter wants to focus on local point-to-point travel.
It sounds fantastic, but Volocopter has many believers who support his vision. Last year, the company raised EUR 50 million ($ 55.3 million) in a financing round led by Geely, the Chinese parent company of Volvo Cars. Geely also entered into a joint venture with Volocopter to bring the startup’s aircraft to China. Other investors are Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, and Intel.
Volocopter’s ability to attract attention and money from so many bold names is remarkable because electric flight is extremely difficult – some would even say that it is impossible in a commercial sense. Flying requires an incredible amount of energy, and current battery technology simply does not provide the power to weight ratio that it takes to take off. Most experts predict that it will be years, if not decades, for battery technology to catch up.
This is probably why Volocopter envisions its planes only operating short distances. The 2X prototype – the one with 18 rotors – offers a flight time of 30 minutes and a maximum range of 27 km. However, according to Volocopter, the batteries can be swapped out quickly to balance these numbers until technology improves.