Volocopter has committed to launch its VoloCity air taxi service in Singapore within the next three years, putting the city-state in pole position to be one of the first regions in Asia to begin Urban Air Mobility operations.
The German startup has been working closely with the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for the last two years and in preparation for the launch, has founded Volocopter Asia Holding and appointed Hon Lung Chu as its Head of Asia Pacific in Singapore.
Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, said: “Singapore is renowned for its leading role in adapting and living new technologies. Our successful cooperation with EDB, MOT, and CAAS on our previous flight has shown that there is no better place in Asia to launch our electric air taxi services than in Singapore.
“The city’s research institutes conducting R&D play an integral part in this. Topics like route validation for autonomous operations, material science, and research regarding battery technology are very important for our long-term business success.”
Volocopter’s VoloCity eVTOL air taxi will fly up to two passengers directly and has a range of 35km, travelling at speeds of up to 110km/h. Its first route in the Lion City is expected to be a touristic route over the southern waters, offering breathtaking views of the Marina Bay skyline.
This could provide Singapore with a new attraction to enhance Singapore’s tourism industry in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Follow-on connections may include cross-border flights, which may enhance regional connectivity and offer a significantly improved travel experience to Singapore’s closest economic centres.
Leading up to the launch of commercial operations, Volocopter will build up a team of 50 pilots, engineers, operation specialists, and business managers.
The company is expected to hire more than 200 full-time employees in Singapore to manage a network of routes by 2026. Volocopter has also initiated research and development projects with local institutions, starting with Fraunhofer Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University.
Mr. Tan Kong Hwee, Executive Vice President of EDB, said: “Urban Air Mobility is an emerging area within the broader mobility sector, which we have identified as a growth industry for Singapore.
“We are glad that 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 for Singapore.”
Before launching the services in Singapore, Volocopter will obtain the necessary regulatory approvals, including those from CAAS and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Volocopter’s regulatory approvals will be facilitated by CAAS and EASA’s Working Arrangement on Airworthiness Certification, which allows for validation of type certification to be done concurrently and in close coordination.
To achieve this, Volocopter will, together with stakeholders, also be conducting comprehensive tests, flight trials, evaluations, and certification before approval to commence commercial air taxi operations can be granted.
Mr. Tan Kah Han, Senior Director (Unmanned Systems Group) of CAAS, added: “In this new area of Urban Air Mobility, we look forward to continue working with Volocopter. This gives us the opportunity to co-create regulations and technologies with the industry, facilitating innovation to enable a future mode of transportation for Singapore.”
In October 2019, Volocopter completed a air taxi demonstration flight in the heart of Singapore over the Marina Bay area, giving observers the unique opportunity to have a sense of what Urban Air Mobility will look like.
Leading up to this flight, the company opened a Singapore office, conducted extensive flight tests, and worked closely with several key stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and CAAS, to receive the necessary permits to fly then.