Airport, city and state officials gathered at Tampa International Airport (TPA) on Thursday morning to witness the first-ever electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft test flight at a large U.S. airport, as well as the first to test in the state of Florida, a press release states.
According to the release, Volocopter, a Germany-based pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM) and eVTOL manufacturer, and Tampa International Airport teamed up to bring the test flight to Tampa, allowing onlookers to witness the crewed, all-electric vehicle – commonly known as an “air taxi” – as it lifted into the Tampa skies from TPA’s airfield.
Guests, including Tampa Bay Mayor Jane Castor, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and others from the aviation and transportation industry watched in wonder and cheered as the Volocopter aircraft completed the 8-minute flight, a major step in understanding how the technology might be used in the future.
“Tampa International Airport has always embraced innovation and futuristic planning, and we’ve already identified a potential site for urban air mobility as a part of our Master Plan,” TPA CEO Joe Lopano said. “This technology has the potential to transform the aviation and transportation industry, and we’re excited to partner with Volocopter as we introduce and visualize the amazing possibilities that lie ahead.”
TPA has been a leader in advancing the technology, also known as advanced air mobility (AAM), forming a special committee to study eVTOL infrastructure in the Tampa Bay area and how it might integrate with the current airspace system. The committee has been working with state, federal and industry leaders to better understand how eVTOLs might be used in the next five to 10 years, as well as FAA safety requirements and regulations.
“Flying at a large, active airport always presents a multitude of challenges, but we proved that our aircraft is safe, quiet, and efficiently useful in a city like Tampa,” Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke said. “Volocopter sees this as the starting point of the entry into service in the US, and we will come back to show our continued progress. We thank all attending guests for the support given to make this first-ever eVTOL flight in Florida a success.”
UAM is a new category of aircraft that focuses on short- to medium-range flights, transporting people and goods to or within an urban environment. Quiet, safe and sustainable operations of a certified eVTOL are designed to not only provide efficient transportation to reduce congestion, but to lower the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.
Volocopter recently announced its partnership with the Bristow Group to begin operations of eVTOLs in the near future, with Florida being one of the targeted areas of operation. Since 2018, Volocopter has flown in three U.S. locations, with Tampa being the first site in Florida as well as the first test flight at a major U.S. airport.