UAM Vertiport Testbed Launched In France


Groupe ADP, Skyports and Volocopter have officially opened a vertiport terminal testbed designed to explore urban air mobility (UAM) technology and passenger processes. Located at France’s Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield, the Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed facility is being called “Europe’s first fully integrated vertiport terminal for the [UAM] industry.” The launch event included a crewed test flight of Volocopter’s 2X electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft along with demonstrations of flight monitoring capabilities and digital operating systems.

“The Pontoise-Cormeilles terminal is a physical demonstration of the fact that innovation won’t occur in isolation; it requires collaboration from a multitude of area experts, including operators, vehicle manufacturers, and technology developers, each of which have an important role to play in achieving the ultimate objective of commercial AAM [advanced air mobility] services,” said Skyports CEO Duncan Walker. “With the completion of the terminal, we will now begin comprehensive testing of procedures and technologies in a realistic aviation environment, creating a space for Skyports and consortium partners to accelerate the industry.”

Among the concepts to be tested at the Pontoise-Cormeilles vertiport are UAM vehicle integration, ground movement procedures and charging procedures as well as flight scheduling, situational awareness and aircraft boarding. Groupe ADP, Skyports and Volocopter are part of the Re.Invent Air Mobility initiative, which was launched in 2021 to “bring together an ecosystem around urban air mobility” in the region around Paris. As previously reported by AVweb, 30 companies were selected by the RATP Group, Groupe ADP and Choose Paris Region to participate in the initiative.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Nice picture. Pity about the traffic cones. Oh wait, perhaps they are part of the ground movement situational awareness concept?

    • More like “make sure madame presidente de la region does not have to have her hair done (again) today…”

  2. This story illustrates the disturbing and disappointing paradigm at work in the aviation industry regarding new products. All the talk about “partnering”, “consortiums”, etc and the constant gaslighting push that nothing will happen unless a huge number of entities are involved – and, by the way, all of these entities have payrolls and they aren’t gonna participate unless it’s worth their while financially – are attempts at conditioning the culture that this is how things are done. Or, as an alternative, the example of the late Frank Robinson can be emulated. One guy determined a different, simpler, more effective path could be taken, figured out how to do it, and changed the aviation world without multitudes of “partners’ standing in line with outstretched palms which YOU, the consumer, will ultimately fill.

    But “we” don’t do things that way any more.

    • Yes, it’s just another helicopter. It is much quieter than a conventional helicopter; it can be “refueled” in places where you wouldn’t want to – or can’t – keep supplies of jet fuel; and in theory it is much cheaper to build, operate and maintain without sacrificing safety, although that is yet to be proven in practice. And, it has much, much shorter range than a conventional helicopter.
      Because it’s quieter, doesn’t need jet fuel, and in theory is much cheaper, there is an hypothesis that the “urban air taxi” business model, which isn’t viable for conventional helicopters, could be viable for electric helicopters like this.
      But, essentially, yes, it’s just another helicopter.

      • I was thinking as far as terminal security, airspace restrictions, certification standards, and “nuisance factor” of landing in suburban areas. It’s still a helicopter so all that should still apply to flying and landing a helicopter in an air taxi operation, right?

        • Basically, yes. The nuisance factor should be reduced by the lower noise (and rather different noise signature). I think part of the point of setting up a “vertiport testbed” is to understand issues like how to do terminal security in a way that doesn’t create such severe delays as to eliminate the value of a short-range air taxi. Certification standards are still TBD because while these are “just a helicopter” conceptually, they are quite different in execution. Airspace restrictions would likely not change, as I understand it.

  3. I wonder what Frank Robinson thought of all the new electric multi-rotor helicopter replacements. That would have been an interesting conversation to have had.

  4. So they are going to fly from where to where to demonstrate the concepts? So this will be a simulated operations station? Why in France, a country so regulated one is not allowed to do their own household repairs and upgrades but must hire outside contractors for everything. They will have to negotiate with both the government and the labor unions for essentially everything they do there. Go figure.