Paris to launch Urban Air Mobility trials in June


An airport on the outskirts of Paris is to host a series of tests and experiments aimed at speeding up the introduction of urban air taxis and drones in the French capital.

Business Group the Choose Paris Region, airport operator Groupe ADP and Parisien rail operator RATP Group are behind the series of tests, which will start in June and use a test area at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield, around 16 miles north of Paris.

The Paris “Urban Air Mobility industry branch” will investigate in a real aeronautical environment at Pontoise issues around parking, takeoff and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle such as maintenance and electrical recharging.

All trials are being conducted in partnership with the French civil aviation authority and with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol.

Choose Pairs, ADP and RATP launched an expression of interest to participate in the trials last October which attracted 150 applications from 25 countries. 30 winners have been selected from the entrants that specialize in vehicle development, transport infrastructure, aviation operations, airspace integration and public acceptance.

The selected organisations, academic institutions and companies include aircraft developers such as Airbus, Vertical Aerospace, Ehang, Zipline, Safran as well as operators such as Air France, training company CAE from Canada, Swiss charging infrastructure firm Green Motion, UK-based vertiport designer Skyports and French aviation research organisation ONERA.

The selected candidates join Volocopter, of the electric vertical take-off vehicle (eVTOL) developer Volocopter, which has committed to testing its VoloCity vehicle at Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield from June 2021.

Edward Arkwright, deputy CEO of Groupe ADP said, “The success of this call for international interest shows that there is strong support for the structuring of an air mobility industry in the Paris region. Alongside all these industrial, academic and research players, and thanks to the setup of a test area at our Pontoise airfield, the first of its kind in Europe, we will now be able to boost its development.

Catherine Guillouard, chairwoman and CEO of RATP Group said, “After the inauguration of a test area on September 30th, the urban air mobility sector has entered into a new phase. As a partner to cities, we are pleased to contribute to the development of this new form of mobility and to the integration of this technology in the urban landscape in view of the 2024 Olympic Games”.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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