Volocopter: Showcasing Advancements At Paris Airshow For 2024 Olympics
Volocopter, a leading flying taxi manufacturer, is set to demonstrate its advancements at the Paris Airshow, aiming to gain momentum for the urban air mobility industry.
As the Paris Olympics loom a year ahead, Volocopter, the flying taxi producer, is determined to convince Paris Airshow executives of its capability to transport customers during the sporting event and expand globally.
Although the Paris Airshow predominantly showcases military and commercial planes, electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft manufacturers are also making their presence felt. Lilium, for instance, recently announced a deal to sell 100 of its jets to China's HeliShenzhen Eastern General Aviation Co. However, the eVTOL sector faces numerous challenges, including securing regulatory approval and gaining consumer trust, while investors are becoming more cautious with their funding.
Volocopter, based in Germany, is actively working to overcome these obstacles and become the first company to launch a commercial flying taxi service during the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Utilising the air show as a platform, Volocopter aims to showcase its progress and inspire risk-averse investors to consider air taxis as a lucrative investment opportunity.
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter, stated, "The Olympics are our North Star." He believes that achieving success during this high-profile event can significantly benefit the wider urban air mobility sector, as it would persuade investors to recognize the value of air taxis. Experts and industry leaders agree that meeting the projected timelines for early operations would generate considerable excitement.
However, no flying taxi manufacturer, including Lilium and Joby from the United States, has received official certification thus far. Volocopter aspires to be the first but must still subject its aircraft to extensive weather tests and provide extensive documentation to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the regulatory authority in Europe.
Hoke acknowledges that being the first to receive certification is a challenging endeavour, stating, "It's not a walk in the park." Next month, the company plans to conduct intensive weather tests in Germany, involving a pilot and passenger.
In addition to the technical challenges, the eVTOL industry must regain trust and credibility. Many flying taxi manufacturers have experienced delays in their commercial launch schedules, impeding their progress. The current financial climate further complicates matters, with reduced liquidity and declining venture capital investments. Riedel, from the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, noted a shift in investment focus from air taxis to drones.
Analysts warn that unless the investment climate improves, numerous players in the eVTOL sector may struggle or even fold in the coming years. Although Volocopter remains a prominent figure, the decline in funding for eVTOL projects from $1.2 billion in the first half of 2022 to $710 million in the same period this year, as per McKinsey data, raises concerns for the industry's sustainability.
Alan Wink, managing director of capital markets at EisnerAmper, an accounting firm, highlighted a preference for investing in drone companies due to perceived lower regulatory obstacles and clearer paths to profitability. He emphasized the importance of a viable exit strategy for investors.
Honeywell International, a U.S. supplier of products for urban air mobility, acknowledges the potential of the eVTOL industry, driven by travel demand and environmental considerations. Honeywell has secured contracts worth approximately $7 billion to supply parts for eVTOL manufacturers, according to Mike Madsen, president of the aerospace division. Nevertheless, Madsen predicts that consolidation within the eVTOL space is imminent, with larger players acquiring smaller companies, allowing the best ideas to thrive.
Volocopter aims to demonstrate progress in flying taxi technology at the Paris Airshow, with the goal of launching a commercial service during the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Securing regulatory approval and gaining consumer trust remain significant challenges for the eVTOL industry.
The success of Volocopter during the Olympics could boost investor confidence in air taxis and the urban air mobility sector as a whole.
The eVTOL industry faces financial constraints, with declining venture capital investments and a shift in investment focus toward drones.
Analysts warn that numerous eVTOL players may struggle or fold if the investment climate does not improve.
Consolidation within the eVTOL space is anticipated, with larger companies acquiring smaller ones to promote growth and survival.