Volocopter eVTOL completes first-ever test run in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM

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The first air taxi test flights were successfully completed in Saudi Arabia’s NEOM on Wednesday.

After receiving special authorization from the Kingdom’s aviation authority, the electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) completed its week-long test run in NEOM for the first time.

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It comes after 18 months of collaboration between NEOM, the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and urban mobility company Volocopter, according to a statement shared with the press.

The team reportedly hopes to implement and scale up the ecosystem and testbed in NEOM.

Volocopter eVTOL in Saudi Arabia's NEOM. (Supplied)
Volocopter eVTOL in Saudi Arabia's NEOM. (Supplied)

“The successful test flight of a Volocopter eVTOL is not just another milestone towards the creation of NEOM’s innovative, sustainable, multimodal transportation system – it is a tangible example of NEOM as a global accelerator and incubator of solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Driving the development of smart, sustainable, and safe mobility systems will improve livability and connectivity in cities around the world and reduce carbon emissions, creating a cleaner future for all,” Nadhmi al-Nasr, the CEO of NEOM was quoted as saying in the statement.

In 2021, NEOM and Volocopter founded a joint venture to scale advanced air mobility which included an over $190 million investment by the former party.

“It is beyond exciting to see our work from the past 18 months come to fruition. As the first eVTOL aircraft to ever test in Saudi Arabia, we are proud to have lain the groundworks for our future collaboration here in NEOM,” Christian Bauer, Chief Commercial Officer of Volocopter was quoted as saying in the statement.

The test run focused on flight performance in local climate and environmental conditions, as its integration into the local unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) system.

Volocopter’s eVTOLs will be a key component of NEOM’s mobility system, which is expected to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, generated by solar and wind energy sources. They will reportedly be used in a variety of roles, including as air taxis and emergency response vehicles, and are quieter, more easily adaptable, and cheaper to operate than the helicopters often employed today.

Volocopter eVTOL in Saudi Arabia's NEOM. (Supplied)
Volocopter eVTOL in Saudi Arabia's NEOM. (Supplied)

The company has commenced serial production at its facilities in Bruchsal, Germany, with a stated capacity to deliver more than 50 aircraft a year.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans for NEOM, an economic zone, in 2017 as part of his Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil.

The Kingdom’ sovereign wealth fund is the cornerstone investor in NEOM, a 26,500-square-km (10,230-square-mile) high-tech development on the Red Sea with several zones, including industrial and logistics areas.

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