PARIS, France – In a groundbreaking move just weeks before the opening of the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, the French authorities have authorized the first-ever flying cabs in France to conduct experimental flights in the Paris region.

Despite facing several unfavorable opinions from various authorities, Transportation Minister Patrice Vergriete has approved the initiative as an “experiment.”

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This marks a significant step in urban transportation innovation, with the ambitious project spearheaded by Groupe ADP, the Paris airport operator.

The initiative involves the German manufacturer Volocopter, whose futuristic-looking machines resemble a hybrid between a drone and a helicopter.

These Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft are set to operate from a specially constructed vertiport on a barge anchored near the Gare d’Austerlitz train station, located in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

This strategic location, at the foot of the Cité du Design et de la Mode, will serve as the central hub for the flying cabs during the Olympic Games.

Edward Arkwright, deputy CEO of Groupe ADP, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating that the experimental phase is expected to include “a few flights” during the Games. Each flying cab will carry two people – a pilot and a passenger.

The limited scope of this trial phase means the barge vertiport must be dismantled by December 31, 2024. However, the project has laid the groundwork for future developments in urban air mobility.

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In addition to the Austerlitz vertiport, the VTOL aircraft will operate from four other vertiports: Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole, the Issy-les-Moulineaux heliport, and two major airports, Le Bourget and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle.

These locations have been chosen to facilitate safe and efficient operations, ensuring that flying cabs can navigate the Paris region without flying over residential areas. Instead, the aircraft will follow routes over the Seine River, minimizing noise and potential disturbances.

The project’s progress has been rapid. In recent days, construction of the Austerlitz vertiport has proceeded at breakneck speed, demonstrating the commitment of Groupe ADP and its partners to meet the ambitious timeline.

The choice of a barge as the base for the vertiport is a strategic decision, providing flexibility and minimizing the impact on the city’s infrastructure.

The authorization for these experimental flights is a milestone in the advancement of urban air mobility in France. While commercial use of flying cabs remains out of the question for now, this trial represents a critical step towards integrating such technology into the public transportation network.

The success of this experiment could pave the way for broader adoption of VTOL aircraft in urban environments, offering a new solution to the challenges of urban congestion and transportation inefficiency.

As the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games approach, the world will be watching this innovative experiment closely.

The flying cabs project not only highlights Paris’s role as a global leader in technological innovation but also showcases the city’s commitment to exploring sustainable and futuristic transportation solutions.

For now, the skies of Paris will witness the advent of a new era in urban mobility, as these flying cabs take to the air, albeit in a limited capacity, during one of the world’s most celebrated sporting events.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members