Germany Orders Electric Air Taxis to Carry Emergency Doctors

Germany’s biggest air-ambulance operator has ordered two electric air taxis to evaluate their potential in a pioneering role speeding doctors to patients.

ADAC Luftrettung, part of the country’s leading motoring association, will begin testing the 18-rotor Volocopter GmbH aircraft from 2023 after the simulation of 26,000 emergency responses in two cities indicated that it could fulfill a rapid-transport role currently performed by a costlier helicopter fleet.

The joint announcement Tuesday provides further evidence of the commercial potential of vertical takeoff air taxis, coming less than a week after Singapore said it plans to launch the world’s first such service.

Germany may need more than 250 bases for the craft, according to ADAC, which plans to operate them alongside its choppers. Though the VoloCity model has no room for a third person in its cabin with the pilot and medic, only 25% of helicopter missions today require a casualty to be evacuated by air, it said.

Still, ADAC said that Volocopter, based in Bruchsal, Germany, might need to improve the model’s payload, a range currently limited to 22 miles, and its speed of 68 miles per hour to make a stronger business case.

Singapore plans to introduce air taxis via a venture with Volocopter by the end of 2023. Tickets for a 15-minute trip costing $365 are already on sale.

While regulations mean initial flights will feature a pilot, the manufacturer’s plans envisage that the craft will ultimately operate as a two-passenger drone.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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