Volocopter is preparing to launch air taxi services with its VoloCity eVTOL aircraft in Singapore by the end of 2023. In a December 9 announcement, the German company said it will work with the Economic Development Board of Singapore and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
Over the next three years, Volocopter said it will recruit a team of 50 pilots, engineers, operations specialists, and business managers. By 2026, it expects to have grown its team to 200 people and at that point will be operating a network of routes across the Southeast Asian city-state.
The first services in Singapore are expected to be sightseeing flights along the southern coast, giving good views of the Marina Bay skyline. Further services might include cross-border flights into neighboring Malaysia. However, the two-seat, all-electric aircraft will only have an initial range of around 22 miles.
Volocopter said it is not certain whether Singapore will be the first place in the world where it launches its air taxi services. It is certainly the first announced location, but the company continues to speak with other cities and is known to have focused cooperation efforts on places including Dubai, Paris, and London.
Prior to launching operations, Volocopter will need to complete regulatory approvals. The company hopes this process will be facilitated by last week’s agreement between the CAAS and the European Aviation Safety Agency to allow validation of type certification for eVTOL aircraft to be done concurrently and in close cooperation.
In September 2019, Volocopter paved the way for this process when it conducted a public flight demonstration of its prototype aircraft in Singapore. This was done with the approval of CAAS and Singapore’s Ministry of Transport and include the installation of a temporary VoloPort passenger terminal in the Marina Bay district. The latter was built by Volocopter’s partner Skyports.
Volocopter has started research and development projects with local technology centers, starting with the Fraunhofer Singapore facility at the Nanyang Technological University. CEO Florian Reuter said that the city’s research capabilities were a significant factor in its choice of launch location. “Topics like route validation for autonomous operations, material science, and research regarding battery technology are very important in our long-term business success,” he commented.
“Singapore is an important regional testbed for autonomous cars, electric vehicles, and urban air mobility, including the successful first test flight by Volocopter in 2019,” said EDB executive vice president Tan Kong Hwee. “We are glad Volocopter has chosen Singapore to anchor its commercial and R&D activities. This will help build new capabilities for our mobility ecosystem and create many exciting opportunities.”
Volocopter has formed a local company called Volocopter Asia Holding. It has recruited Hon Lung Chu as its head of Asia Pacific in Singapore and he joins the group from unmanned traffic management group AirMap, where he was head of business operations in the Asia Pacific region.