The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Volocopter Selects Maintenance Software for eVTOL Aircraft Operations

Volocopter will use the AMOS maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) platform developed by Swiss Aviation Software (Swiss-AS) to manage its eVTOL aircraft. Under a multi-year contract signed on May 30, the AMOS system will interface with Volocopter’s VoloIQ platform to manage the airworthiness of what is expected to be a worldwide fleet, providing reliability monitoring and analysis for the all-electric aircraft. The agreement marks Swiss-AS’s first involvement in the advanced air mobility sector. It already provides MRO software for airlines operating fixed-wing aircraft. According to the company, AMOS will ensure that the condition of each eVTOL vehicle can be fully traced through its life cycle to ensure that it gets the required maintenance. The software will also monitor ground-handling operations, deploy any support tools needed, and manage ground staff assignments.

Germany-based Volocopter intends to use its VoloIQ system to manage all customer-facing services such as flight bookings and aircraft location and availability. The company aims to complete type certification of its initial two-seat VoloCity vehicle in 2024 and is using software from Aviation Safety and Quality Solutions for this task.

“With Swiss-AS as a partner, Volocopter is making strides to ensure that the maintenance of our VoloCity is managed and executed efficiently and is foolproof,” commented Volocopter chief risk and certification officer Oliver Reinhardt. “The AMOS software has a proven track record in the aviation industry—giving us confidence to obtain our continuing airworthiness management organization and maintenance organization approval, which is essential for our entry into service.”

Scandinavian Airline SAS Starts Taking Bookings for First Electric Flight in 2028

SAS has opened seat reservations for what it says will be the first commercial electric aircraft flight in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark at some point in 2028. The Scandinavian carrier is one of several prospective operators of Heart Aerospace’s 30-seat ES-30 hybrid-electric airliner. Bookings open at noon on June 2 with seats priced at 1,946 krona ($179) as a tribute to the year in which SAS began scheduled services.

No fees are required for seat reservations with the full payment due 30 days before the date of the flight once this is confirmed. The point of departure and the destination for the first ES-30 commercial flight are also still to be determined.

SAS plans to operate Heart Aerospace's ES-30 hybrid-electric airliner from 2028.
SAS plans to operate Heart Aerospace's ES-30 hybrid-electric airliner from 2028. (Image: SAS)

SAS signed a “letter of support” with Heart Aerospace in September 2022, having cooperated with the start-up’s early efforts since 2019. The airline is committed to burning only sustainable aviation fuel on domestic flights within the Scandinavian countries from 2030 as part of a first step toward its net zero carbon target for 2050.

Moviation’s Vonaer Air Mobility Service Platform Will Support Plana’s eVTOL Aircraft

Hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft developer Plana is partnering with flight provider and support group Moviation to prepare operations for the five-seat vehicle it intends to certify in 2025. The South Korean start-ups said they will cooperate in developing the infrastructure to support eVTOL air taxi services and also early use cases for the vehicles.

Moviation introduced its Vonaer system in February and is using it to expand the rideshare services it provides using existing helicopters. The company also intends to use its platform to allow passengers to directly book flights, while also providing facilities such as lounges and connecting ground transportation.

Plana is developing a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft.
South Korea's Plana is developing a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft. (Image: Plana)

Earlier this year, Plana announced a partnership with South Korean rideshare group Ghenus Air, which signed a letter of intent to buy 20 of its eVTOL aircraft. “We are excited to improve the satisfaction of our future passengers based on the infrastructure and data accumulated by Moviation,” said Plana CEO Braden Kim. “We hope that this MOU will help us to expand the domestic advanced air mobility market.”

Satellite and Terrestrial Command and Control Trials Build Connectivity Path for Urban Air Mobility

Connectivity specialists SkyFive and EchoStar recently completed flight trials with a new dual satellite and terrestrial command and control system they believe could support eVTOL aircraft operations in urban areas. The two companies have now disclosed that they completed the tests in February 2023 at the Ludwig Bölkow Campus near Munich. The companies are working in conjunction with Airbus, which is developing a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft called CityAirbus NextGen and forging partnerships with advanced air mobility infrastructure providers to develop early use cases to connect cities.

During the tests, telemetry data was transmitted concurrently over air-to-ground and satellite networks using SkyFive’s postage-stamp-sized modem with a Hughes 4510 S-band modem and satellite service provided by EchoStar to control a drone in a series of flight exercises. One key goal was to validate the dual satellite and terrestrial connectivity service according to ICAO’s required communication performance standards and to demonstrate commercial-grade, performance-based communication and surveillance for safety. During the tests, the satellite and ground connections operated simultaneously over the same S-band (2.1 GHz) frequency without interfering with each other.

Phenix Makes First Flight with Half Pint Cargo Drone Technology Demonstrator

Phenix Solutions recently completed a first test flight with a subscale technology demonstrator for its proposed Multi-Capable Distribution Platform drone. The so-called “Half Pint” vehicle is being deployed for medium utility system flight trials at the FAA’s uncrewed air systems flight test range. The U.S. company is also developing the larger Ultra 2XL vehicle.

According to Oregon-based Phenix, the turbine-powered Half Pint will have a payload of around 250 pounds. The company believes it will make an impact on the medium-load cargo delivery drone sector and plans to conduct demonstration flights with an undisclosed prospective customer as well as participate in exercises at the University of Alaska later this summer.

Phenix is flying its Half Pint utility drone technology demonstrator.
Phenix is flying its Half Pint utility drone technology demonstrator. (Image: Phenix Solutions)