Aeroporti di Roma, Volocopter, UrbanV, and Atlantia have conducted the first crewed eVTOL public test flight in Italy, while presenting the country’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) testing vertiport and hosting an interactive booking process on Volocopter’s VoloIQ digital platform.
The test comes one year after the first eVTOL prototype was showcased in Italy. In the last twelve months, significant progress has been made on flight technology, vertiport design, and the regulations necessary to enable the first AAM services between Fiumicino Airport and the city of Rome planned to take to the skies by 2024.
Volocopter’s test pilot aboard the electric Volocopter 2X, which took place on 6 October, flew 40 km/h for 5 minutes at 40 meters height along a “figure 8” flight path in front of onlookers after attaining all the necessary clearances from the Italian authorities, the civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile – ENAC), and the provider of air traffic control services (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo – ENAV), whose role stays central in shaping the future AAM ecosystem.
Volocopter’s electric air taxi is designed for quick and emission-free passenger flights in urban environments over congested roads and waterways, reflecting Atlantia’s and Aeroporti di Roma’s plan to play a pioneering role in making the future of aviation increasingly innovative and sustainable.
The vertiport test is developed in compliance with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) “Prototype Technical Specifications for the Design of VFR Vertiports for Operation with Manned VTOL-Capable Aircraft Certified in the Enhanced Category” and is located within the regulatory sandbox approved by ENAC. It is designed to host various types of tests for both flight and ground operations (turnaround, battery charging, etc.), with an electric system devised to allow testing of various eVTOL charging technologies (battery swaps, fast charging, etc.).
The infrastructure, occupying an area of about 5,500 square meters, has been sized to ensure compatibility with the main eVTOLs that will be certified in the coming years and consists of: a final approach and take-off area (FATO) for landing and take-off operations; a parking area; a covered hangar measuring 20 x 20 x 6 meters; various rooms, including an office, a warehouse, and an area for battery charging.
The flight was followed by a vertiport demonstration hosted by UrbanV, a company established by ADR – together with Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, Aeroporto di Venezia (SAVE), and Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna. Moreover, another aspect of future AAM services was explored , the VoloIQ. This digital platform is the backbone of the urban air mobility ecosystem supporting digital access to all working process. From flight operations to booking and beyond, VoloIQ will be supporting and streamlining UAM/AAM operation scale-up in cities around the world to complement the physical infrastructure (vertiports) and entire ecosystem in the digital dimension.
“Today’s event represents a significant milestone in our path as pioneers in testing and implementing Advanced Air Mobility in Italy, and in playing our part in making urban transports increasingly sustainable and seamless,” commented Marco Troncone, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma. “The opening of the first vertiport in Italy and flying the first eVTOL crew represent a remarkable step towards the activation of the first AAM routes between Fiumicino airport and Rome city centre by the end of 2024, ahead of the Jubilee, to offer our contribution to our city and our institutions in welcoming the international tourist flows with a ground-breaking, innovative service.”
Christian Bauer, Chief Commercial Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Volocopter, added: “We’ve come from a signed partnership agreement and event series kick-off to a flight test at an operational airport in a little less than a year. With that, we are bringing together all the key stakeholders and regulators to witness this mobility service and technology with their own eyes.”
Carlo Tursi, CEO of UrbanV, also commented: “This test vertiport is particularly significant for UrbanV, representing our first step towards establishing a network of vertiports in the Rome region. In close synergy with all of our partners in this new mobility ecosystem, we are making progress towards positioning Rome as one of the first European cities to offer seamless connections with electric aircraft, leveraging the expertise we have developed in designing and building ground infrastructure for advanced air mobility.”