Frankfurt Airport developing autonomous air-taxi concept
by Traveleads | February 20, 2019 | In The Air Latest News
Fraport AG, the transport company that manages Germany’s Frankfurt Airport, says it is working on conceptual plans for electric air taxi services.
The company partnered with Volocopter GmbH, which makes two-person multi-rotor electric aircrafts that can be flown by a pilot or autonomously. The aircraft is based on drone technology and the “Volocopter Port” is envisioned as a way to “link existing urban transportation junctions with one another and provide connections to and from Frankfurt Airport,” according to the press release.
Fraport and Volocopter said that they’re exploring on how to integrate air taxis into the existing airport infrastructure at Frankfurt, using what it calls Volocopter Ports, that could link up with existing transportation nodes at the airport. One of Europe’s busiest air hubs, Frankfurt handled over 69 million passengers last year.
Volocopter, founded in 2012 and counting Daimler as one of its investors, is in the testing phase with its electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) ‘multicopters.’ One of its autonomous air taxis made its first public test flight in Dubai in September 2017, and it most recently flew Intel CEO Brian Krzanich as its first passenger at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“Autonomous flying will fundamentally change aviation in the years to come,” said Anke Giesen, Fraport AG’s executive board member for operations.
“We want to be the first airport in Europe to harness the potential of electric air taxis in partnership with pioneer Volocopter for the benefit of our passengers and the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region.”
The airport and drone manufacturer will collaborate on developing concepts for the ground infrastructure and operational changes needed to launch an air taxi service.
Fraport already has experience operating unmanned drones: the airport’s FraDrones program has been testing vertical-takeoff “multicopters” for use in urban transport.
Volocopter’s products have been flight tested in Dubai, where the government encourages the use of autonomous vehicles. Boeing and Uber are also working on their own air taxis.
fraport.com | Volocopter GmbH