Spain plans to achieve air taxi demonstration flights above two regional capital cities — Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona — by 2022, Enaire, the nation’s air navigation authority, announced last week during an online conference.
Enaire is participating in two projects funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 project. CORUS-XUAM, led by Eurocontrol, aims to develop a concept of operations for UAM activities and conduct large-scale demonstrations across Europe, with a reported budget of $25 million. The second project, led by Spanish consulting company Everis, was dubbed AMU-LED.
The flights, managed by Enaire, will use large platforms, will travel through open spaces, and will either contain people or test dummies depending on the level of regulatory achievement demonstrated. Santiago airport will become a logistics center for air taxis under the project, according to the airport’s website.
“We need to move urban mobility into the third dimension, airspace, and we need to do it as efficiently and sustainably as we can,” said Angel Luis Arias, director-general of Enaire, at an event organized by the Official College of Aeronautical Engineers in Spain. “Enaire, in its capacity as a public company of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, is willing to fulfill its duties to attract and help any private sector companies or public organizations that are interested in allowing Spain to position itself at the forefront of the development and operation of this new sector.”
An aircraft for the demonstrations has yet to be named. Last summer, Spanish research and development center Tecnalia unveiled a multicopter prototype able to carry one person or cargo up to 150 kilograms (330 pounds) a distance of 15 miles.
A more likely candidate for the 2022 demonstrations is either Volocopter’s VoloCity or EHang’s 216 air taxi; the former is likely the only native European project far enough along — Lilium is targeting 2025 for certification of its aircraft and its prototype was substantially damaged in a fire during ground maintenance earlier this year. In March, EHang announced agreements with the Spanish cities of Seville and Llíria as sites for pilot UAM programs, but little has been heard regarding those partnerships since.