Rome, Italy, 6 October 2022 – Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), Atlantia, UrbanV, and the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), Volocopter, have successfully completed the first crewed eVTOL test flights in Italian airspace. These tests were part of a mobility ecosystem setup at Fiumicino’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. This is a key milestone toward the envisioned rollout of advanced air mobility (AAM) services in Rome by 2024, with the partners having initiated operations of the first fully functional vertiport in Italy.
Aeroporti di Roma, Volocopter, UrbanV, and Atlantia conducted the first crewed eVTOL public test flight in Italy this morning, while presenting the country’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) testing vertiport and hosting an interactive booking process on Volocopter’s VoloIQ digital platform. The test comes one year after the first eVTOL prototype was showcased in Italy. In the last twelve months, significant progress has been made on flight technology, vertiport design, and the regulations necessary to enable the first AAM services between Fiumicino Airport and the city of Rome planned to take to the skies by 2024.
Volocopter’s test pilot aboard the electric Volocopter 2X flew 40 km/h for 5 minutes at 40 meters height along a “figure 8” flight path in front of onlookers after attaining all the necessary clearances from the Italian authorities, the civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile – ENAC), and the provider of air traffic control services (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo – ENAV), whose role stays central in shaping the future AAM ecosystem. Volocopter’s electric air taxi is designed for quick and emission-free passenger flights in urban environments over congested roads and waterways, reflecting Atlantia’s and Aeroporti di Roma’s plan to play a pioneering role in making the future of aviation increasingly innovative and sustainable.
The vertiport is developed in compliance with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) “Prototype Technical Specifications for the Design of VFR Vertiports for Operation with Manned VTOL-Capable Aircraft Certified in the Enhanced Category” and is located within the regulatory sandbox approved by ENAC. It is designed to host various types of tests for both flight and ground operations (turnaround, battery charging, etc.), with an electric system devised to allow testing of various eVTOL charging technologies (battery swaps, fast charging, etc.). The infrastructure, occupying an area of about 5,500 square meters, has been sized to ensure compatibility with the main eVTOLs that will be certified in the coming years and consists of: a final approach and takeoff area (FATO) for landing and takeoff operations; a parking area; a covered hangar measuring 20 x 20 x 6 meters; various rooms, including an office, a warehouse, and an area for battery charging.
This morning’s flight was followed by a vertiport demonstration hosted by UrbanV, a company established by ADR – together with Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, Aeroporto di Venezia (SAVE), and Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna. The aim is to design and build vertiports internationally. In this context, another dimension of future AAM services was explored, the VoloIQ. This digital platform is the backbone of the urban air mobility ecosystem supporting digital access to all working process. From flight operations to booking and beyond, VoloIQ will be supporting and streamlining UAM/AAM operation scale-up in cities around the world to complement the physical infrastructure (vertiports) and entire ecosystem in the digital dimension.
“One of the pillars of Atlantia’s new industrial strategy is investment in technology and innovation to make our assets increasingly sustainable and to open up new forms of integrated mobility,” said Giampiero Massolo, Chairman of Atlantia. “We are pleased to have helped to bring together a number of companies in which we are shareholders. By working together and contributing to a range of different expertise and areas of excellence, we are creating a new kind of sustainable mobility that did not exist until a few months ago. By collaborating with the related institutions, we aim to open up the service to the public at Fiumicino, before extending it to the other airports in which we have invested by 2024”.
“Today’s event represents a significant milestone in our path as pioneers in testing and implementing Advanced Air Mobility in Italy, and in playing our part in making urban transports increasingly sustainable and seamless,” commented Marco Troncone, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma. “The opening of the first vertiport in Italy and the first crewed eVTOL flight represent a remarkable step towards the activation of the first AAM routes between Fiumicino airport and Rome city centre by the end of 2024, ahead of the Jubilee, to offer our contribution to our city and our institutions in welcoming the international tourist flows with a ground-breaking, innovative service.”
“We’ve come from a signed partnership agreement and event series kickoff to a flight test at an operational airport in a little less than a year. With that, we are bringing together all the key stakeholders and regulators to witness this mobility service and technology with their own eyes,” said Christian Bauer, Volocopter’s Chief Commercial Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer.
“This test vertiport is particularly significant for UrbanV, representing our first step towards establishing a network of vertiports in the Rome region,” commented Carlo Tursi, CEO of UrbanV. “In close synergy with all of our partners in this new mobility ecosystem, we are making progress towards positioning Rome as one of the first European cities to offer seamless connections with electric aircraft, leveraging the expertise we have developed in designing and building ground infrastructure for advanced air mobility.”
Recent studies conducted by EASA and the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility have concluded that the estimated market size of UAM in Europe – including R&D, vehicle manufacturing, operations, and infrastructure construction – will be approximately €4.2 billion by 2030, with the capacity to create or sustain approximately 90,000 jobs by that year (excluding manufacturing jobs). Focussing on the variety of societal benefits that UAM will have for Europe, the EASA study also ranks Rome as one of the most suitable cities in Italy for the implementation of UAM/AAM services*.
The second day of the “Vertiport Experience” event will be much like the first day, with an additional deep dive for economic stakeholders on market perspectives, AAM ecosystem components, the regulatory framework needed to launch the sector, and the opportunities for more partners to come on board with this emerging branch of electric aviation. By bringing these decision-making groups together, Atlantia, ADR, Volocopter, and UrbanV are setting the tone for the synergies and flight campaigns required for a successful UAM launch in the next three years.
*“Study on the societal acceptance of Urban Air Mobility in Europe”, EASA, 19 May 2021,https://www.easa.europa.eu/en/full-report-study-societal-acceptance-urban-air-mobility-europe
Atlantia is a strategic investment holding company that manages motorway and airport infrastructures under concession and provides mobility services. The company mission is to make mobility more sustainable, safe, innovative and efficient, responding to society’s latest needs. We want to create social, economic and environmental value by actively investing in innovative projects that make the travel experience unique and simplify people’s everyday lives. Our commitment is at the heart of our strategy that sees sustainability as a new way of working, investing and managing our assets. Our impact is spread across 24 countries, encompassing more than 10,000 km of highways, 5 airports and other technology-driven services to make mobility simple and accessible, in a continuous quest for innovation.
About Aeroporti di Roma S.p.A.
Aeroporti di Roma, an Atlantia Group company, manages and develops the airports of Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino and carries out other activities associated with and supplementary to airport management. In 2019, ADR recorded, as an airport system, 49.4 million passengers with over 240 destinations worldwide that can be reached from Rome, thanks to the approximately 100 airlines operating in the two airports (In 2021, following the effects induced by Covid-19 on air transport, Fiumicino airport recorded just 11.7 million passengers, whilst Ciampino airport closed the year with 2.3 million passengers). In 2022 the Airports Council International Europe awarded Leonardo da Vinci with the “Best Airport Award 2022” for the fourth time in five years. The award adds to the recognition of Airports Council International World which, in 2022, for the fifth consecutive year, awarded Leonardo da Vinci with the “Airport Service Quality 2021” award, as the most popular airport in Europe amongst the hubs with more than 40 million passengers. As a result of these achievements, in 2022 ACI included ADR in the “Director General’s Roll of Excellence”, a list made up of only 64 airports around the world (out of more than 18,000 airports worldwide), which have distinguished themselves for the very high levels of quality offered to their passengers. Major awards have also been received in the area of digital innovation, one of the main drivers of ADR’s strategy, alongside sustainability; in this regards, the ACI’s “Digital Transformation Award 2021” was obtained by Fiumicino, and the UNWTO has named Fiumicino as the “World’s Most Sustainable Airport 2022”.Lastly, with reference to the measures implemented for health protection, ADR’s hubs have distinguished themselves by winning numerous awards: the “Airport Health Accreditation” 2020 and 2021, the “Airport Health Measures Audit” in 2020, which certified the Safeguard airports, the “Biosafety Trust Certification” by RINA in 2020 and the “Covid-19 Skytrax Airport Rating 2020”, which awarded Leonardo da Vinci 5 stars globally based on the efficiency of the procedures and the results of the ATP tests. Continuing to work to maintain its standards of excellence, ADR has inaugurated in 2022 the “New Boarding Area A” at Fiumicino airport, developed and built according to the highest criteria of technology and sustainability to welcome over 6 million passengers more per year; an Innovation Hub has also been launched at the airport, to implement acceleration programs for start-ups from all over the world.
Volocopter brings urban air mobility (UAM) to megacities worldwide. We aim to improve the quality of life for people in cities by offering a fantastic new mode of transportation. For that, we create sustainable and scalable UAM ecosystems with partners in infrastructure and operations.
Volocopter’s family of eVTOL aircraft will offer passengers (VoloCity and VoloConnect) and goods (VoloDrone) swift, secure, and emission-free connections to their destinations, supported by VoloIQ, the UAM ecosystem’s software platform that serves as its digital backbone for safe and efficient operations.
As a pioneer in the UAM industry, Volocopter will launch commercial services within the next few years. Founded in 2011, the company employs more than 500 people in Germany and Singapore, has completed over 1,000 successful public and private test flights, and raised $579 million in equity from investors, including Geely, WP Investment, Mercedes-Benz Group, Intel Capital, and BlackRock. www.volocopter.com.
A static model of the VoloCity, the electric air taxi for short urban routes, went on public display in November 2021 at both Piazza San Silvestro and Fiumicino Airport shortly after the partners announced their collaboration agreement. More information about the components needed to create UAM ecosystems in cities worldwide can be found in Volocopter’s dedicated white paper: The roadmap to scalable urban air mobility
UrbanV is a company owned by Aeroporti di Roma, SAVE Group, Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur and Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport, for the development of Advanced Air Mobility infrastructure at an international level. The initial network of vertiports will include the reference areas of the founding partners and may be extended to other geographical areas. UrbanV’s ambition is to be among the first in the world to launch Advanced Air Mobility commercial networks, starting from Rome where it plans to activate the first route (Fiumicino Airport – Termini Station) by 2024. UrbanV’s mission is to bring air mobility to urban centers by designing and managing vertiports, the infrastructure for Advanced Air Mobility. A new form of safe, sustainable and integrated mobility.