Germany electric aviation startup Volocopter revealed Monday a new electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft targeting the suburban-to-city commuter.
The four-seater VoloConnect is designed to have a range of 62 miles, making it well-suited for trips between the suburbs and the city, the company said. The aircraft design is a significant departure from the VoloCity, the company's first passenger eVTOL that is designed for shorter urban trips. The two-seat VoloCity, which has to be certified, has a 22-mile range.
VoloConnect’s longer range indicates that the company has its sights set on markets outside of major city centers, and that it is looking to more directly compete with rival eVTOL startups. VoloConnect's aircraft specs are in line with that of competitors Archer Aviation and Wisk Aero, which each have eVTOL designs with an anticipated range of around 60 miles.
VoloConnect has a hybrid lift-and-push design, combining aspects of what one might typically see in a helicopter with a small aircraft. The vertical lift is facilitated by six propellers that sit parallel to the aircraft body and are connected by two wings. The push comes from two large fans on each side of the craft. Three wheels can retract into and out of the plane’s belly during take-off and landing.
The German-based startup said the new craft can reach a cruising speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) and a top speed of around 155 mph (250 km/h). It aims to achieve certification by 2026.
Electric aviation startups are all competing to be the first company to bring an aircraft to market. Even as Volocopter released this new design, the company is primarily focused on launching its air taxi service, which would use the smaller VoloCity aircraft, in Singapore by 2023. But before Volocopter's aircraft can take to the skies, it will first need to achieve type certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Administration, and, in the case of Singapore, the relevant aviation authority there.