Neom and Volocopter, the pioneers of urban air mobility (UAM) in Saudi Arabia, announced today the successful completion of a series of air taxi test flights. This is the first time in Saudi Arabia that an eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft has gotten a special flight authorization and conducted test flights.
The week-long flight test campaign culminated 18 months of collaboration between Neom, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and Volocopter to create and grow an electric UAM ecosystem and testbed in Neom. Before the test campaign, the parties collaborated closely to guarantee full regulatory compliance and safety.
“The successful test flight of a Volocopter eVTOL is not just another milestone towards the creation of Neom’s innovative, sustainable, multimodal transportation system – it is a tangible example of Neom as a global accelerator and incubator of solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Neom. Driving the development of smart, sustainable, and secure mobility systems will increase city livability and connectivity while lowering carbon emissions, resulting in a cleaner future for everybody.”
“This safe and successful test flight represents an important milestone of the Saudi aviation sector and another steady step towards achieving the aviation sector’s strategy through innovation and employing emerging technologies to create new industries that contribute to the output GDP and create more jobs,” said Abdulaziz A. Al-Duailej, President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It also reaffirms GACA’s commitment to enabling the safe integration of new air transport patterns that promote urban mobility and the quality of life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Neom and Volocopter aim to improve the future through innovative, clean technologies. As part of a multimodal transportation system, electric air mobility illustrates Neom’s desire to reinvent mobility and transform people’s lives. Neom and Volocopter formed a partnership in 2021 to scale revolutionary air mobility, establishing Neom as a collaborative, global living lab for the future of transportation.
“It is beyond exciting to see our work from the last 18 months come to fruition,” says Christian Bauer, Chief Commercial Officer of Volocopter. We are happy to have laid the groundwork for our future collaboration here in Neom as the first eVTOL aircraft to test in Saudi Arabia.”
The test campaign concentrated on the Volocopter aircraft’s flying performance in local temperature and environmental circumstances and its integration with the local unmanned aircraft traffic management (UTM) system.
Volocopter eVTOLs will be critical components of Neom’s smart and sustainable multimodal mobility system, fueled entirely by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. They will be used in several roles, including air taxis and emergency response vehicles, and are quieter, more versatile, and less expensive to operate than helicopters now in use. They have a reduced on-ground infrastructure footprint and fewer operational constraints and use smart and autonomous capabilities to ensure safety and long-term applicability in future scenarios.
The news of the test flight builds on Neom’s EUR 175 million investment and joint venture with Volocopter, establishing Neom as a leader in future transportation solutions. Volocopter anticipates that its VoloCity air taxi will be type certified in 2024, allowing for future commercial operations. Volocopter recently announced the start of VoloCity serial production at its Bruchsal, Germany, facility, which can produce more than 50 aircraft per year under one-shift conditions.