By Chris Stonor
To create an urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem around the Paris region, the RATP Group, Groupe ADP and Choose Paris Region, launched an international call “for expressions of interest” last October, alongside support from the Paris Region, reports a press release. This unprecedented initiative brought together 150 applications from 25 countries.
Some 30 winners were then selected, to conduct experiments from June 2021 in a trial area at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin Airfield.
To meet the challenges posed by UAM the “expressions of interest” was structured around five categories:
: Vehicle development: for manufacturers and equipment suppliers (batteries, avionics, etc.)
: Urban infrastructure: for energy companies or vertiport designers
: Operations: for suppliers of intermodal solutions, maintenance, or digital platforms
: Airspace integration: for suppliers of unmanned traffic management (UTM) or communication/ navigation systems
: Acceptability: for laboratories or research institutes dealing with social and environmental issues
Therefore, from June 2021, in close cooperation with the French civil aviation authority (DGA) and with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol, trials will be carried out in an actual aeronautical environment at Pontoise, with respect to parking, takeoff and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle, whether for maintenance or electrical recharging.
Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP, said,“The test area integration within the airfield has been the result of collaborative work with French civil aviation authority teams. Today, Groupe ADP wants to explore and make possible all the futures of aviation, both carbon-free and innovative”.
The selected candidates join Volocopter, manufacturer of the electric vertical take-off vehicle (eVTOL), who is to be the first company to test its VoloCity. The companies can share their expertise, identify synergies and carry out tests in the coming months at the Pontoise airfield.
Catherine Guillouard, Chairwoman and CEO of RATP Group, added, ”The urban air mobility sector has just entered into a new phase with this successful call for expressions of interest.”
The project has brought together leading industrial players in the field of UAM mobility like Airbus, as well as international start-ups and major academic and research institutions, including the University of Berkeley and the French Civil Aviation School.
In addition, the prospect of the French hosted 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is an exceptional opportunity to prepare and mobilise the UAM sector and to make the Paris Region a major world reference point for the industry.
Franck Margain, President of Choose Paris Region, commented, “Through the collaboration of public and private players and by inviting innovative companies from around the world to join us, we are building a unique ecosystem to develop the urban air mobility sector, reinforce the attractiveness of the Paris region, and to support responsible industries and employment.”
The winners chosen by the jury for the five categories are:
For Vehicle Development
: Airbus (France): aircraft manufacturer
: Ascendance Flight Technologies (France): Hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft manufacturer
: Ehang (China): passenger electric VTOL manufacturer;
: H3 Dynamics (Singapore): manufacturer and ultralight hydrogen electric systems developer
: Pipistrel (Slovenia): electric aircraft and logistics VTOL manufacturer
: Safran Electronics & Defense (France): manufacturer of the Patroller VTOL and optronics, avionics, electronics systems and critical software provider for civil and military applications
: Volocopter (Germany): manufacturer of the VoloCity electric VTOL
: Vertical Aerospace (United Kingdom): manufacturer of the VA-1X eVTOL
: Zipline (USA): logistics drone operator and manufacturer
: Air France (France): expected contribution in several areas, especially in aircraft maintenance and repair
: CAE (Canada): aviation training and simulation solutions provider
: Dassault Falcon Services (France): subsidiary of Dassault Aviation specialized in maintenance operations and other services for business aviation
: ESTACA (France): engineering school specialized in mobility and aeronautical techniques, including aircraft maintenance
: Helifirst (France): airline specialized in business aviation with helicopters
: Helipass (France): on-demand helicopter flight reservation platform
For Urban Infrastructure
: Green Motion (Switzerland): charging systems designer and provider for electric vehicles
: IDEMIA I&S (France): specialist in digital security, biometrics and identification-authentication solutions
: Leosphere (France): Lidar equipment provider allowing remote sensing and precise weather forecasts
: Skyports (United Kingdom): vertiport designer & operator and logistics VTOL operator
For Airspace integration
: Cergy University and ESSEC (France): university and school consortium, gathering 25 000 students, including the first junior company in Europe
: ENAC (France): engineering school specialized in civil aviation
: Internest (France): positioning systems allowing autonomous landing in complex environments
: M3 Systems (Belgium): high performance on-board geo-tracking applications developer
: Thales SIX (France): on-board anti-collision systems develope.
For Public Acceptance
: Bruitparif (France): noise environment technical assessment center in the Ile-de-France region
: Ecole Polytechnique (France): engineering school with an Executive Master’s specializing on technological innovation and new business models
: Envirosuite (Australia): real-time and localized data collection technologies provider allowing industries to improve their environmental performance
: UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation studies, NEXTOR (USA): research university center in transport and new mobility
: ONERA (France): public research center in the aviation, space and defense industries
: Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (Netherlands): aviation expertise, consulting and research centre