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Volocopter’s air taxi performs a test flight at Helsinki Airport

Volocopter’s air taxi performs a test flight at Helsinki Airport


Another small step toward the goal of commercial flights

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German startup Volocopter says it’s the first company to fly an electric vertical takeoff and landing (or eVTOL) aircraft at an international airport while integrated into the air traffic management system. The company released a video of its 18-rotor aircraft (or octadecacopter) flying around Helsinki Airport on Friday, which shows test pilot Damian Hischier zooming around the runways a few dozen feet in the air.

It’s not Volocopter’s first test flight by any means. But if the company (or its many competitors) has any hope of proving out a use case for short-hop eVTOL flights, coexisting with airports will be crucial.

Volocopter’s been kicking around since the first days of The Verge’s existence in 2011, and in that time, it has evolved its electric air taxi technology to an impressive level, as the aircraft no longer looks like some kind of Mad Max flying machine. That progress has attracted some serious backing, too, with Intel providing Volocopter with both technology and assistance and Daimler investing some $30 million.

Most companies in this space are still in the testing phase — if they’re even that far along — so it will be a while before we see a company attempt to shuttle passengers or cargo along real routes. There are lots of other questions to be answered about the value of this specific type of transportation. But as those answers get sorted out, Volocopter and others are going to keep trying to make air taxis happen.