New York witnessed a rare sight as Joby Aviation and Volocopter demonstrated their air taxis. The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft recently soared over Manhattan, giving a glimpse of a future where air mobility redefines logistics and commuting.
Pilots flew the eVTOL aircraft from the Downtown Heliport, showcasing its versatility in operating in densely populated areas. And since Joby worked with NASA in 2022 to reduce the sound produced by the aircraft, it’s so quiet that New Yorkers will hardly know it’s there.
The aircraft measures 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) when flying overhead at an altitude of 1,640 feet (500 meters), making it quieter than human speech.
Air taxis improve quality of life
According to Volocopter managing director Christian Bauer, there was more significance to taking to the New York City skyline than meets the eye.
Bauer explains: “A New York City flight has always been on Volocopter’s mind when designing an eVTOL that could be safe and quiet enough to fly its busy skies.”
According to Bauer, the flight demonstration proves that the company possesses all the requirements “to make this emerging technology flourish in this city.” Moreover, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase how air taxis can elevate the quality of life for New York residents.
NY’s electrification commitment
Meanwhile, New York City economic development corporation president and CEO, Andrew Kimball, says the Adams administration “has been a leader in driving technology innovation and economic growth while simultaneously improving quality of life.”
“[The new] strategy for the Downtown Manhattan Heliport reflects these priorities while making it an industry leader in the embrace of eVTOLS while facilitating maritime freight with last-mile e-bikes deliveries that takes trucks off the roads,” says Kimball.
This is in line with New York’s broader approach to diversify transportation, reduce congestion on the roads, and lower emissions and noise pollution in a city that never sleeps.
Future of eVTOL tech
Going boldly into the future, Joby Aviation plans to provide transit services using its four-passenger, zero-operating-emissions electric aircraft. Since the aircraft is optimized for back-to-back flights, it would reduce travel times while also dealing with noise pollution.
JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, states: “We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers, while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise.”
Volocopter expects to receive final certification for its eVTOL aircraft from the European Union Safety Agency (EASA). Finalizing the certification process in 2024 is crucial to kickstart operations.
Volocopter started the process of obtaining validation from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2020; it should be finalized soon.
Without this certification, the company cannot use its aircraft for commercial purposes, and it won’t be allowed to legally conduct business within the US.
The bigger picture
The willingness of the New York City administration to adopt electric air taxis signals a shift in urban transportation.
Some of these benefits include:
- Using vertical spaces to introduce a new element to urban design. These reimagined cityscapes could include ‘vertiports’ one day – within the next decade perhaps.
- eVTOLS aligning with environmental goals to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
- A quieter alternative to traditional helicopters, addressing the noise pollution problem.
- Transforming last-mile delivery with eVTOLs used for transporting goods.
- Enhanced connectivity, as electric aircraft reduce travel times in congested cities.
About the author
Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.