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Diehl to provide fly-by-light control for Volocopter’s VoloCity eVTOL aircraft

Diehl Aerospace and Volocopter are expanding their partnership after the companies announced Diehl will be developing and producing the optical avionics communications, as well as the subcomponents needed for Volocopter’s own battery management system.

In addition to the flight control computer, Diehl Aerospace is developing the optical avionics communications for Volocopter’s two-seat VoloCity eVTOL aircraft. Volocopter Image

“We are excited to further expand our partnership with Volocopter, an innovative pioneer in the UAM [urban air mobility] market, bringing our many years of experience and expertise in flight control systems to the table,” said Florian Maier, president and CEO of Diehl Aerospace.

Diehl is already producing the flight control computer for the German startup’s two-seat VoloCity eVTOL aircraft. The company said its optical splitter complements the flight control system by providing control information to VoloCity’s 18 rotors.

In contrast to conventional fly-by-wire control systems, the electrical signals from Diehl’s flight control computer are translated into optical signals and controlled optoelectronically. Instead of using electrical signals through copper wires, light signals are used through corresponding optical fibers to transmit measured values and control commands.

Diehl claims this fly-by-light control is “immune to electromagnetic interference, for example, from cell phones or transmission towers,” allowing the VoloCity to perform flights at low altitudes in cities.

Diehl is also developing the data concentration unit (DCU) to collect optical signals from the VoloCity’s 18 rotors through an optical interface and convert them into digital data for the avionics, providing pilots with feedback on engine speed and temperature.

Powered by nine lithium-ion battery packs, the company is targeting a range of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and maximum airspeed of 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour) with its VoloCity multicopter.

Volocopter is aiming to bring its VoloCity to market in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics, after it receives type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).  

Along with the VoloCity, the eVTOL company is also developing a four-seat fixed-wing VoloConnect aircraft, which recently achieved its maiden flight in May.

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