Sunday, June 16, 2024

Volocopter announces first flight of its longer-range drone taxi

German aircraft manufacturer Volocopter announced that it has achieved another milestone to bring urban air mobility (UAM) to life: its fixed-wing, 100% electric aircraft, the VoloConnect, completed its first flight in May 2022. This accomplishment makes Volocopter the only eVTOL developer worldwide to have an entire fleet of distinct configurations undergoing flight tests.

The VoloConnect prototype completed its first flight in May after just 17 months in the making and performed a few maneuvers for 2 minutes and 14 seconds during its first flight. The prototype has all the planned aerodynamics and performance features of the future commercial product.

The lift and cruise aircraft seats up to four people, has more than 60 miles range.
The lift and cruise aircraft seats up to four people, has more than 60 miles range. Credit: Volocopter

As the name suggests implies, VolConnect can both take off and land vertically as well as show efficient forward flight and its design. The VoloConnect offers further and faster journeys than any other Volocopter aircraft to date, with a range of over 60 miles (100 km) and flight speeds above 155 mph (250 km/h). Its six rotors facilitate vertical take-off, while two electric fans, in combination with uplift-creating wings, ensure high forward speeds. The aircraft is capable of carrying four passengers.

The VoloConnect prototype is currently being put through a demanding series of flight tests to verify that the aircraft and its systems are in line with the performance limits and prepared for the subsequent development steps. This phase encompasses a raft of different tests, including standardized low-speed, transition, high-speed, and engine failure testing for automated and later autonomous flights.

Within the first three test flights of this campaign, the team was able to verify a significant portion of the eVTOL’s envelope with forward speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h) and 28 mph (45 km/h) sideward flight speeds during tests. The test flight envelope will be gradually opened as part of the test flight campaign over the coming weeks.

With the VoloCity and VolConnect air taxi designs fulfilling demands for metropolitan flights and suburban connections in densely populated regions, respectively, Volocopter is ready to serve a broader range of passengers’ flight needs. Moreover, the VoloConnect is targeting a 2026 entry into service, while VoloCity is targeting a commercial launch in 2024.