While Uber has reportedly decided to lower its ambitions by selling its Uber Elevate subsidiary dedicated to air taxis to Joby Avionics, the German firm Volocopter is accelerating and preparing to launch a commercial service within three years. After two years of close collaboration with the city, the German aircraft manufacturer has committed to launching an air taxi service in Singapore.
Volocopter has even opened reservations for the first VoloCity Air Taxi flights. For €300 (about $355), each VoloFirst ticket includes a 15-minutes flight on the company’s VoloCity aircraft, a video of the trip, and an official company certificate.
In its press release, Volocopter indicates that the first route in the Lion City is expected to be a touristic route over the southern waters, offering breath-taking views of the Marina Bay skyline. Follow-on connections may include cross-border flights, which may enhance regional connectivity and offer a significantly improved travel experience to Singapore’s closest economic centers.
“Singapore is renowned for its leading role in adapting and living new technologies. Our successful cooperation with EDB, MOT, and CAAS on our previous flight has shown that there is no better place in Asia to launch our electric air taxi services than in Singapore,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “The city’s research institutes conducting R&D play an integral part in this. Topics like route validation for autonomous operations, material science, and research regarding battery technology are very important for our long-term business success.“
In October 2019, Volocopter completed the historic air taxi demonstration flight in the heart of Singapore over the Marina Bay area, giving observers the unique opportunity to have a sense of what Urban Air Mobility will look like. Equipped with 18 electric rotors, the VoloCity will be able to carry two passengers over a maximum distance of 22 miles (35 km), flying up to 68 mph (110 km/h).
Before launching the services in Singapore, Volocopter will obtain the necessary regulatory approvals, including those from CAAS and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. To achieve this, Volocopter will be conducting comprehensive tests, flight trials, evaluations, and certification before approval to commence commercial air taxi operations can be granted.
Volocopter, whose investors include Daimler, Geely, DB Schenker, Intel Capital, plans to assemble a team of 50 pilots, engineers, and operations specialists to support flights in Singapore. The aircraft will initially carry a pilot and a passenger, but services could increase to two passengers once authorization is received for its autonomous operation. Ticket prices should drop sharply once more flights become available, according to Volocopter.