Whispering Flying Taxi Turns Heads at Paris Air Show

Whispering Flying Taxi Turns Heads at Paris Air Show barronsnews

Flying Taxi Makes Subtle Debut at Paris.—The world’s premier aviation showcase witnessed a discreet introduction of one of the most anticipated aircraft.

Surprisingly, it’s remarkably quiet.

Volocopter, the German innovator behind the futuristic flying taxi set to transport visitors during the upcoming Summer Olympics in the City of Light, revealed a prototype of their aircraft at this year’s Paris Air Show.

Amidst the deafening roars of jet fighters, thumping attack helicopters, and roaring airliners that captivate attention and interrupt conversations, the electric VoloCity went largely unnoticed as it gracefully ascended and traversed the runway at the small airport northeast of Paris where the biennial event takes place.

Onlookers, engrossed in their smartphones, paid little heed to its swift passage. Conversations among aerospace executives, military brass, and government officials carried on undisturbed during takeoffs and landings.

“The air conditioning drowned out the sound of the aircraft, causing some to miss it,” Dirk Hoke, Volocopter’s chief executive, revealed. He had to notify investors, suppliers, and business partners about the scheduled flight demonstration of the flying taxi.

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Adding to the challenge of attracting attention, Volocopter’s aircraft abstains from showcasing any aerial acrobatics. Military helicopters perform captivating dances and spins in the sky, while passenger jetliners execute sharp turns. Jet fighters dart up, down, and around, enthralling the audience.

Brian Yutko, CEO of Wisk, a Boeing-owned startup developing a competing flying taxi, explained, “You don’t want to flaunt the flight controls. It’s incredibly silent. It’s remarkably straightforward. In a way, it’s unexciting, and that’s the intention.”

Conventional helicopters with their whipping blades and roaring engines face greater resistance when it comes to transporting passengers over short distances in urban areas. Hence, except for air shows, quieter aircraft are preferred for air taxis.

Volocopter is currently seeking approval from European regulators to commence its taxi service by the following summer, in time for the Olympics. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency must grant its endorsement, subjecting the aircraft to specific sound and safety standards.

The serene debut of VoloCity at the air show delighted Patrick Ky, executive director of EASA, as he made his rounds. “Each time I witness their flights, I am greatly impressed,” he shared. “I saw it, but I couldn’t hear it.”

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However, sound is not the sole consideration. Ky revealed that European regulators also demand that the new aircraft meet the same rigorous safety standards as commercial airliners. “Our approach is quite conservative,” he asserted.

An EASA spokeswoman emphasized that the agency takes into account the risks to passengers and people on the ground in densely populated areas. The Federal Aviation Administration stated that it is closely collaborating with its European counterpart to align certification standards.

For now, Volocopter’s CEO, Dirk Hoke, clarified that the company’s aim is not to replace metro systems or bus routes but rather to offer additional commuting options. Volocopter has not disclosed the pricing model, and the limited routes and capacity of the aircraft, which can accommodate only one pilot and one passenger, may initially restrict its widespread use.

Numerous developers are engaged in a race to construct similar flying taxis, known as “electric vertical takeoff and landing” vehicles or eVTOLs. Minimizing noise is a paramount concern.

Adam Goldstein, CEO of U.S.-based flying taxi company Archer Aviation, envisions their aircraft shuttling passengers during the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. He asserted that their vehicles generate even less noise than the VoloCity. “It’s more of a gentle whooshing sound,” Gold

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