Volocopter has now added a third aircraft prototype to its flight test program. The German startup announced on June 7 during the UP.Summit in Bentonville, AR, that it has completed its first flight test with its four-seat fixed-wing VoloConnect eVTOL aircraft last month.
“Having a whole family of electric aircraft in the test flight phase is a pioneering feat,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, in a press release. “Volocopter’s leadership in the industry stems from announcing plans and then delivering on them visibly with public test flights.”
The milestone flight lasted two minutes and 14 seconds and comes after the company achieved the first hover flight test for its two-seat VoloCity multicopter in December 2021 — the first model that the company plans to bring to market in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Compared to the VoloCity, which was designed to complete intracity trips, Volocopter said its VoloConnect has an extended range and payload to carry out longer urban and suburban missions. Unveiled a year ago, the VoloConnect is targeting a range of 60 miles (100 kilometers), and cruising speed of more than 155 mph (250 km/h).
Sebastian Mores, chief engineer for the VoloConnect, calls the flight test “an extraordinary moment for us — seeing the VoloConnect soar to the sky marks the achievement of one of our key milestones.”
Volocopter said within the first three flight tests of this campaign, the team was able to expand its flight envelope to reach forward speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) and sideward speeds of 28 mph (45 km/h).
The eVTOL developer said it will continue to put the VoloConnect prototype through a “demanding series of flight tests,” gradually opening its flight test envelope to verify that the aircraft and its systems are in line with the performance limits. This includes performing low- and high-speed flights, transition from hover to cruise flight, and engine failure testing for automated and autonomous flights.
VoloConnect’s lift-plus-cruise design incorporates six lifting propellers for vertical take-offs and landings, while two electric ducted fans on either side of the fuselage provide thrust for forward flight.
Volocopter said the VoloConnect prototype has all the planned aerodynamics and performance features of the future commercial product, but a spokesperson told eVTOL.com that while the fuselage is the actual size of the intended commercial aircraft, the wings are about 80% of the commercial vehicle.
VoloConnect is expected to arrive on the market two years after the VoloCity, with a targeted entry into service in 2026. The company is also developing a VoloDrone for autonomous cargo delivery, which made its first public demonstration flight in October 2021.
Volocopter plans to manage commercial operations for all three of its aircraft models using its VoloIQ digital platform. The eVTOL developer claims the total addressable market for its family of vehicles is worth US$290 billion.