Volocopter, a German start-up backed by Intel and Daimler, has joined forces with Canadian simulator specialist CAE to develop and run a pilot training programme for air taxi operations.
The electric vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL, partnership aims to develop the “pilot workforce of the future” and ensure “safe introduction of eVTOL operations globally” by using technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual and mixed reality and data analytics, the companies said.
“As we scale our UAM [Urban Air Mobility] services in cities around the world, specific pilot training and qualification for our Volocopters will be an important element,” Volocopter's chief executive Florian Reuter said.
UAM is an emerging part of the aviation industry focused on aerial connectivity in and around cities. Volocopter's family of electric aircraft is designed to relieve today’s heavy inner-city traffic that is powered by fossil fuels.
The company’s first commercial eVTOL aircraft, the VoloCity, is well into its certification programme with the EU Aviation Safety Agency and is positioned to launch its first services for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Founded in 2011, Volocopter conducted public test flights in Singapore in October 2019 and staged the world’s first autonomous eVTOL flight in Dubai in 2017. It is also developing a heavy-lift cargo variant known as the VoloDrone for use in the logistics space.
“We are committed to supporting Volocopter’s inspiring vision and we look forward to leading in the design of UAM pilot training ... that prioritises safety of operations through our data-driven solutions, world-class pilot training experience and long-standing relationships with civil aviation authorities across the globe," said Nick Leontidis, CAE's group president for civil aviation training solutions.
Expanding air mobility will create a need for about 60,000 pilots within the first decade of operation, according to CAE’s Advanced Air Mobility white paper published earlier this month.
The company has committed to expand its worldwide training network through an investment of about $40 million to meet Volocopter’s projected pilot demand in the early years of operation.
As part of the agreement, both companies will work closely to obtain regulatory approval for their pilot training programme.