Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), Atlantia, UrbanV, and Volocopter have successfully completed the first crewed electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) test flights in Italian airspace. These tests were part of a mobility ecosystem set up at Fiumicino’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. This is a key milestone toward the envisioned rollout of advanced air mobility (AAM) services in Rome by 2024, with the partners having initiated operations of the first fully functional vertiport in Italy.
Aeroporti di Roma, Volocopter, UrbanV, and Atlantia conducted the first crewed eVTOL public test flight in Italy, while presenting the country’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) testing vertiport and hosting an interactive booking process on Volocopter’s VoloIQ digital platform. The test comes one year after the first eVTOL prototype was showcased in Italy. In the last 12 months, significant progress has been made on flight technology, vertiport design, and the regulations necessary to enable the first AAM services between Fiumicino Airport and the city of Rome.
Volocopter’s test pilot aboard the electric Volocopter 2X flew 40 km/h for five minutes at 40 meters height along a “figure 8” flight path in front of onlookers after attaining all the necessary clearances from the Italian authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority (Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile - ENAC), and the provider of air traffic control services (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo - ENAV), whose role stays central in shaping the future AAM ecosystem. Volocopter’s electric air taxi is designed for quick and emission-free passenger flights in urban environments over congested roads and waterways.
The vertiport is developed in compliance with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) “Prototype Technical Specifications for the Design of VFR Vertiports for Operation with Manned VTOL-Capable Aircraft Certified in the Enhanced Category” and is located within the regulatory sandbox approved by ENAC. It is designed to host various types of tests for both flight and ground operations (turnaround, battery charging, etc.), with an electric system devised to allow testing of various eVTOL charging technologies (battery swaps, fast charging, etc.). The infrastructure, occupying an area of about 5,500 square meters, has been sized to ensure compatibility with the main eVTOLs that will be certified in the coming years and consists of: a final approach and takeoff area (FATO) for landing and take-off operations; a parking area; a covered hangar measuring 20 x 20 x 6 meters; various rooms, including an office, a warehouse, and an area for battery charging.
This morning’s flight was followed by a vertiport demonstration hosted by UrbanV, a company established by ADR – together with Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, Aeroporto di Venezia (SAVE), and Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna. The aim is to design and build vertiports internationally. In this context, another dimension of future AAM services was explored, the VoloIQ. This digital platform is the backbone of the urban air mobility ecosystem supporting digital access to all working process. From flight operations to booking and beyond, VoloIQ will be supporting and streamlining UAM/AAM operation scale-up in cities around the world to complement the physical infrastructure (vertiports) and entire ecosystem in the digital dimension.
Recent studies conducted by EASA and the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility have concluded that the estimated market size of UAM in Europe – including R&D, vehicle manufacturing, operations, and infrastructure construction – will be approximately €4.2 billion by 2030, with the capacity to create or sustain approximately 90,000 jobs by that year (excluding manufacturing jobs). Focussing on the variety of societal benefits that UAM will have for Europe, the EASA study also ranks Rome as one of the most suitable cities in Italy for the implementation of UAM/AAM services*.
*“Study on the societal acceptance of Urban Air Mobility in Europe”, EASA, 19 May 2021, https://www.easa.europa.eu/en/full-report-study-societal-acceptance-urban-air-mobility-europe