VPorts plans test flights of “flying taxis” in Quebec as early as 2023
VPorts wants to facilitate the arrival of “flying taxis” in Quebec, such as Bell's developing device, the Bell Nexus 4EX (reproduction).
The Quebec company VPorts announced Wednesday that it intends to set up the first corridors intended for advanced air mobility (AAM) between Quebec and the United States. It expects test flights of so-called “flying taxis” to be made in 2023.
These devices, called electric take-off and landing aircraft vertical (eVTOL), often look like large drones and most of the time have several propellers.
VPorts made the announcement as part of International Aerospace Week, which takes place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal until Thursday. On Tuesday, the company had indicated that it wanted to build vertiports in all regions of Quebec by 2030.
These vertiports, which are infrastructures intended for take-off and #x27;electric aircraft landing, would initially be used to transport goods and medical equipment, according to VPorts.
While VPorts' plans are ambitious, they are not science fiction at all, according to Suzanne M. Benoît, President and CEO of Aéro Montréal, Quebec's aerospace cluster.
It's concrete and it's a matter of time, because it's the future, says Ms. Benoît about the flying taxi industry , which will be piloted by humans in a first phase, but which could become 100% autonomous.
When we see urban congestion, advanced urban mobility, it will connect everyone and it is electric, so it does not consume gasoline, it does not make noise and it will really allow us to develop a new market segment over the next few years.
The Volocity electric model, from the German company Volocopter, which manufactures air taxis
According to the President and CEO of Aéro Montréal, the aerospace sector in Quebec is currently deploying a lot of effort to develop the vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft industry. ), which cost a fraction of the price of a helicopter.
It is estimated that the eVTOL sector will possibly represent the equivalent of 50% of what the aerospace industry represents today. This is a sector that is going to evolve very quickly and when it goes away, when everyone is going to be aligned, that is to say the regulators, the manufacturers and those who develop the infrastructures, it is necessary that #x27;we are ahead of the parade, we have to be ready, adds Ms. Benoît.
Among those who do not intend to miss the parade, there is the helicopter manufacturer Bell, established in Mirabel, which is developing with the American company Textron Aviation the Bell Nexus 4EX vehicle, a flying taxi which can be used in particular air ambulance.
There are 350 companies working in eVTOLs around the world and there are 600 prototypes being designed, estimates Fethi Chebil, president and founder of VPorts.
E-commerce and freight transport giants such as Amazon and UPS have recently invested heavily in the development of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
The x27;fundamental issue, it will be the integration of this traffic, in the airspace. We are creating a control center, a sort of digital control tower. We want to use technology to manage and control all this flow of movement, says Fethi Chebil.
He wants to create air corridors dedicated solely to eVTOL traffic, but to achieve this, he will obviously have to obtain the necessary authorizations, which represents a major challenge.
At this By the way, Fethi Chebil says he works with Transport Canada, NAV CANADA, the Government of Quebec and elected municipal officials to establish important safety and security regulations, air corridors, urban integration and participation. of the community.
Ms. Benoît pointed out that at the end of September, the International Civil Aviation Organization will welcome in Montreal stakeholders and speakers from all over the world who will discuss the regulatory issues related to eVTOL.
This will be one of the main topics of discussion: "How we will manage the implementation flying taxis?"
The President and Chief Executive Officer d'Aéro Montréal has indicated that the main regulators, manufacturers and aerospace manufacturers will be present at this summit.