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FCO deploys Italy’s first vertiport

Posted: 13 October 2022 | | No comments yet

Fiumicino’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport has welcomed the first crewed eVTOL test flights in Italian airspace, a key milestone towards the envisioned rollout of advanced air mobility.

Credit: FCO

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 (FCO). 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.

Volocopter’s test pilot aboard the electric Volocopter 2X flew 40 km/h for five minutes at 40m height along a ‘figure eight’ 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 5,500sqm, 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 six (m); various rooms, including an office, a warehouse, and an area for battery charging.

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.

“The 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.” 

“This test vertiport is particularly significant for UrbanV, representing our first step towards establishing a network of vertiports in the Rome region,” added 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.”

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