Shanghai air taxi maker to test flights at Paris Olympics

2023-06-28 10:39:09China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

An AutoFlight eVTOL is on display at a company facility in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, in August. (Photo/China Daily)

Shanghai-based AutoFlight, a developer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, will test its 250-kilometer-range aircraft during the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to a memorandum signed between the company and Groupe ADP, the operator of Paris airports.

Experimental piloted flights will be conducted at Pontoise, a test center that opened last November. Located northwest of the French capital, Pontoise is the first of five so-called vertiports operated by Groupe ADP in the Paris region.

AutoFlight aims to showcase the potential of its Gen 4 Prosperity I eVTOL in scaling up sustainable urban logistics and passenger transportation under real-world conditions, the company said in a statement.

Prosperity I is a fixed-wing aircraft with a world-record 250-km range and energy consumption levels comparable to those of an electric car. The aircraft set a record for the longest single-charge flight by an eVTOL craft in February after traveling 250.3 km. The previous record of 247.9 km was set in 2021 by US company Joby Aviation.

"The 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a global celebration and we would take pride in AutoFlight's technology being a part of it," said Mark Henning, managing director of AutoFlight Europe.

The partnership with AutoFlight is aligned with its commitment to delivering sustainable and efficient aircraft infrastructure, said Edward Arkwright, deputy CEO of Groupe ADP.

In March, Groupe ADP, which is spearheading the development of eVTOL infrastructure in the Paris region, announced Paris' plan to have the world's first air taxi network ready for next year's Summer Olympics, which will run from July 26 to Aug 11.

"We are going to make it happen. We are trying to launch the first e-VTOL pre-commercial service in the world. That's our ambition," Solene Le Bris from Groupe ADP told delegates during Amsterdam Drone Week in March.

As eVTOL craft require no fixed facilities such as airports and runways, they are widely considered the future of transportation.

Compared with helicopters, they are quieter, more environmentally friendly and affordable. They are expected to be widely used in inter-and intracity air travel.

Around the world, all kinds of eVTOL craft, including cargo carriers, air ambulances and air taxis, are being developed.

AutoFlight is one of the few eVTOL developers to have mastered the challenging transitional phase from vertical to horizontal flight.

Its Prosperity aircraft uses rotors to lift the aircraft vertically for takeoff before using the wings to achieve horizontal flight.

AutoFlight built and flew its first proof-of-concept aircraft in Shanghai at the end of 2021.

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