Germany’s Volocopter has unveiled the design of its production electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxi, which the company plans to fly within 18 months.

Volocopter plans to certify the battery-powered, two-seat VoloCity under EASA’s new Special Condition for VTOL (SC-VTOL) airworthiness regulations.

The VoloCity retains the multicopter configuration of the Volocopter 2X prototype now in flight testing, with 18 rotors mounted on an 11.3-m (37-ft.) diameter branching structure above the fuselage, but the rotor beams are now designed to generate lift. A stabilizer comprising two vertical fins and a horizontal tailplane is mounted under the rear of the rotor structure to improve stability and provide additional lift.

The 2.3-m-diameter rotors are powered by nine lithium-ion battery packs housed in a removable rear fuselage, which can be changed in five minutes between flights, ensuring the aircraft always takes off with fully changed batteries, Volocopter said. Swappable packs allow the batteries to be recharged slowly on the ground, maximizing cycle life to reduce operating costs.

The maximum takeoff weight of the composite-airframe vehicle is 900 kg (1,985 lb.), including a 200-kg payload. Range is 35 km (22 mi.) and maximum speed 110 kph (68 mph). The aircraft is designed to carry two people and their hand baggage. The VoloCity will be piloted, at least initially, but is designed to be flown autonomously or under remote control, the company said.

The aircraft will be certified under the enhanced category of the SC-VTOL rule. Applying to eVTOLs intended for commercial operations, the enhanced category requires the same less than 10-9 probability of catastrophic failure as commercial air-transport aircraft. The VoloCity has redundancy in all critical systems, Volocopter said.

“The VoloCity is our most powerful Volocopter yet. It is rigorously designed to meet the demands of urban air mobility and incorporates all requirements of the SC-VTOL certification standard established by EASA in July 2019,” CEO Florian Reuter said. “It is a result of all insights we have gathered from our extensive testing programs over the past years.”

Volocopter is backed by automotive giant Daimler.

“With the VoloCity we will open the first commercial routes and bring urban air mobility to life,” Reuter said.

Volocopter plans to operate the air taxis as a branded service and hopes to launch its first commercial routes using the VoloCity within three to five years. Air taxi trials using the pre-series 2X and a prototype of the VoloPort operating base are planned in Singapore in the fourth quarter.

Graham Warwick,