Luc Besson had imagined them in the year 2263, in his film the Fifth Element, with Bruce Willis as pilot.
In Ile-de-France, flying taxis could well be 242 years ahead.
And it is the inhabitants of the Vexin National Park, who will be the first to discover them in June 2021.
This was announced on Wednesday afternoon by Aéroports de Paris (ADP), the Ile-de-France region and the RATP.
The Cormeilles-en-Vexin aerodrome, in Val-d'Oise, was chosen to accommodate this new “Air mobility” sector and thus become the experimental laboratory: “We want Ile-de- France is the place where the future is invented.
And we must seize the opportunity of the recovery plan and the 2024 Olympic Games to develop this sector of electric vehicles with vertical take-off, ”smiles Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France region.
Volocopter's electric flying taxi will carry out its experimental tests at the Val-d'Oise aerodrome. / LP / Jila Varoquier
“But we need to know the needs of this sector, its problems, its acceptability with local residents, etc.
“, We continue at ADP.
"And the Cormeilles-en-Vexin site is ideal for the first phase of the test," explains Edward Arkwright, executive director of the ADP group.
It already has runways, civil aviation services, priority areas, there are residents on one side and not on the other.
It is the dream zone to test all the uses of this new air mobility ”.
Catherine Guillouard (CEO RATP) and Valérie Pécresse (President of the Ile-de-France region) board the Volocity, the latest version of the Volocopter flying taxi ./LP/Jila Varoquier
First experimental flights in June 2021
From this Wednesday, the many manufacturers who have embarked on the production of prototype flying taxis, such as Airbus, will be able to apply to ADP.
And the 3 to 5 who will be chosen in mid-December will be able to use this life-size playground to test their device.
The first experimental flights could begin in Cormeilles as early as June 2021. But the objective sought - and hammered by Valérie Pécresse - remains the 2024 Olympic Games: "On this occasion, we want a demonstrator to show the billion spectators of the Olympics" , hopes the president of the region.
A commercial offer in 2030
And the RATP, also a partner in the project for the line operation aspect, is already imagining a commercial offer in 2030, "That seems quite reasonable to us," said Marie-Claude Dupuis, director of innovation at RATP.
A dozen “vertiports”, that is to say places where passengers will board these vertical take-off machines, distributed throughout the Ile-de-France would suffice to start this network of air taxis.
"We have a lot of rights-of-way (stations, bus depots, etc.) which will allow us to accommodate these infrastructures", she adds.
Volocopter's electric flying taxi has many batteries./LP/Jila Varoquier
The service to individuals is not the only use imagined by the partners: "We are also thinking of health emergencies, business uses, tourism, opening up of territories and others yet to be imagined, continues Catherine. Guillouard, CEO of the RATP group, who specifies, however: “We will never replace an RER, which - for example for the RER A - carries 1.4 million passengers per day.
But these are complementary and necessary uses ”.
The German firm Volocopter, already on site
To give a glimpse of this future under construction, the firm Volocopter unveiled on site its latest version of Volocity, one of the most advanced prototype air taxis in the world, which it should perfect in Cormeilles-en-Vexin.
Halfway between a drone and a helicopter, the electric machine has already made several flights in Stuttgart, Helsinki and Singapore: “It was designed to transport people in urban areas, and allow them to save time and costs. 'to have a reliable travel time since it is above traffic jams,' explains Fabien Nestmann, spokesperson for Volocopter.
The Airbus CityAirbus is also one of the prototypes being tested at the moment./DR
Airbus is also working on its CityAirbus
The device could fly at an altitude of around 400 meters, "even if it depends on the height of the buildings", continues the specialist.
And at 110 km / h and with 35 kilometers of autonomy, "It is estimated that the Volocity will reduce travel time by 40 to 60% depending on the traffic," continues Fabien Nestmann.
Its noise is reduced compared to the helicopter, ie 65 dB on take-off.
As for the cost, "we do not want to exceed the prices of a premium taxi," says the spokesperson.
Thus, a trip between central Paris and an airport should cost between 60 and 70 euros ”.
The firm has already opened reservations for flights in 2022 or 2023.
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Like Volocopter, more than a hundred air taxi projects have been launched around the world. Starting with Airbus and its CityAirbus, which has already flown five minutes without a pilot, at the end of 2019. The French also signed a partnership with RATP and ADP, during the Paris Air Show 2019. They had, together, announced the creation of two air corridors of flying taxis, which they would test for the 2024 Olympic Games.