A testbed vertiport at an airfield on the outskirts of Paris, France was opened this week.
Claimed to be Europe’s “first fully integrated vertiport terminal” by the companies behind it, the site at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield on the outskirts of the city will be used to test several aspects of eVTOL aircraft operations. They also plan to use the vertiport, called the Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed during 2024’s Paris Olympics.
Operational aspects of passenger eVTOL aircraft will be tested at the site such as vehicle integration, ground movement procedures, charging procedures, flight scheduling, situational awareness, and information exchange. Also to be examined will be the nature of the passenger’s journey through the terminal, including security and check-in processes, biometric technologies, passenger dwell time, and aircraft boarding.
The companies behind the testbed vertiport include French airport operator Groupe ADP, infrastructure developer Skyports and drone and eVTOL aircraft company Volocopter. A consortium of 30 partners is involved in the project.
The testbed is located at a live airfield enabling stakeholders to test technologies and procedures in different configurations in a real-life environment. It is also aircraft agnostic and offers the entire ecosystem the chance to test and develop their technologies.
During the launch event this week an end-to-end passenger journey, from arrival at the vertiport terminal to aircraft boarding was demonstrated using a model of Volocopter’s VoloCity. A crewed test flight using the German company’s 2X model – the only aircraft currently authorized by DGAC for eVTOL test flights in France also took place.
The series of demonstrations by Skyports and Volocopter featured displays of flight monitoring capabilities and digital operating systems, including Skyports’ vertiport operating systems and the VoloIQ system.
Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP’s CEO and chairman said, “The passenger terminal marks the final stage in the development of the Pontoise testbed, and the completion of a Volocopter flight fully integrated into the airfield’s airspace is the epitome of a year of very ambitious test campaigns. We are now looking ahead to 2024 – the development of all use cases, including health and logistics.”
Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports said, “With the completion of the terminal, we will now begin comprehensive testing of procedures and technologies in a realistic aviation environment, creating a space for Skyports and consortium partners to accelerate the industry.”
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter said, “The testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles is a stellar example of ecosystem partners collaborating to accelerate the realization of UAM. We can test processes, integrate new and old systems, and simulate different operational scenarios to create trust and positive awareness of all stakeholders. Together, we will succeed in providing an additional emission-free transport option for the public. Every test is one step closer to commercialization in time for 2024.”
Valérie Pécresse, president of the Paris Region said, “The Olympics are an incredible opportunity to showcase and launch this project and promote the site’s experimental facilities.”