NEXTOR Selected to Conduct Urban Air Mobility Research in Paris

February 1, 2021

Jasenka RakasCongratulations to UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies and NEXTOR Research Center's Jasenka Rakas on being selected to conduct experiments beginning June 2021 in the test area at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield to create an ecosystem around urban air mobility in the Paris region.

NEXTOR is one of some 30 winners out of 150 applications from 25 countries, from an international call for proposals sponsored by the RATP Group, Groupe ADP and Choose Paris Region.

The call came from a desire to meet the challenges posed by this new form of urban air mobility in terms of use cases, public acceptance, technologies and industrialization, and is structured around the following five categories:

  • Vehicle development: for manufacturers and equipment suppliers (batteries, avionics, etc.);
  • Urban infrastructure: for energy companies or vertiport designers;
  • Operations: for suppliers of intermodal solutions, maintenance, or digital platforms;
  • Airspace integration: for suppliers of unmanned traffic management (UTM) or communication/ navigation systems;
  • Acceptability: for laboratories or research institutes dealing with social and environmental issues.

Starting in June 2021, in close cooperation with the French civil aviation authority (DGA) and with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol, tests will be carried out in a real aeronautical environment at Pontoise, with respect to parking, takeoff and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle, whether for maintenance or electrical recharging.

Selected candidates join Volocopter, manufacturer of the electric vertical take-off vehicle (eVTOL), which will be the first industrial player to test its VoloCity vehicle from June 2021 and will now be able to share their expertise, identify synergies and deploy experimentations in the coming months at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield.

The call also brings together leading industrial players in the field of air mobility, such as Airbus, as well as international start-ups and major academic and research institutions, including the University of Berkeley and the French Civil Aviation School.

In addition, the prospect of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is an exceptional opportunity to mobilize a sector to prepare a demonstrator for this horizon, and to make the Paris Region a reference in the global market for urban air mobility.

On this occasion, Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP said: "the success of this call for international interest shows that there is strong support for the structuring of an air mobility industry in the Paris Region. Alongside all these industrial, academic and research players, and thanks to the setup of a test area at our Pontoise airfield, the first of its kind in Europe, we will now be able to boost its development. Today, Groupe ADP wants to explore and make possible all the futures of aviation, both carbon-free and innovative".

Catherine Guillouard, Chairwoman and CEO of RATP Group stated that "after the inauguration of a test area on September 30th, the urban air mobility sector has just entered into a new phase with this call for expressions of interest, which has proved to be a real success. As a partner to cities, RATP Group is pleased to contribute to the development of this new form of mobility, which complements our historical modes of transport, and to this integration of technology in the urban landscape in view of the 2024 Olympic Games".

And Franck Margain, President of Choose Paris Region to add: "the success of the call for expressions of interest conducted alongside ADP Group and RATP Group demonstrates the international attractiveness of the Paris region as well as the importance of our region for the development of tomorrow's mobility. Through the collaboration of public and private players, and by inviting innovative companies from around the world to join us and complete our value chain, we are building a unique ecosystem to develop the urban air mobility sector, reinforce the attractiveness of the Paris region and to support responsible industries and employment."

The winners chosen by the jury for the five categories are:

  • For Vehicle development: - Airbus (France): aircraft manufacturer; - Ascendance Flight Technologies (France): Hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft manufacturer; - Ehang (China): passenger electric VTOL manufacturer; - H3 Dynamics (Singapore): manufacturer and ultralight hydrogen electric systems developer; - Pipistrel (Slovenia): electric aircraft and logistics VTOL manufacturer; - Safran Electronics & Defense (France): manufacturer of the Patroller VTOL and optronics, avionics, electronics systems and critical software provider for civil and military applications; - Volocopter (Germany): manufacturer of the VoloCity electric VTOL; - Vertical Aerospace (United Kingdom): manufacturer of the VA-1X eVTOL; - Zipline (USA): logistics drone operator and manufacturer.
  • For Operations: - Air France (France): expected contribution in several areas, especially in aircraft maintenance and repair; - CAE (Canada): aviation training and simulation solutions provider; - Dassault Falcon Services (France): subsidiary of Dassault Aviation specialized in maintenance operations and other services for business aviation; - ESTACA (France): engineering school specialized in mobility and aeronautical techniques, including aircraft maintenance; - Helifirst (France): airline specialized in business aviation with helicopters; - Helipass (France): on-demand helicopter flight reservation platform.
  • For Urban Infrastructure: - Green Motion (Switzerland): charging systems designer and provider for electric vehicles; - IDEMIA I&S (France): specialist in digital security, biometrics and identification-authentication solutions; - Leosphere (France): Lidar equipment provider allowing remote sensing and precise weather forecasts; - Skyports (United Kingdom): vertiport designer & operator and logistics VTOL operator.
  • For Airspace integration: - Cergy University and ESSEC (France): university and school consortium, gathering 25 000 students, including the first junior company in Europe; - ENAC (France): engineering school specialized in civil aviation; - Internest (France): positioning systems allowing autonomous landing in complex environments; - M3 Systems (Belgium): high performance on-board geo-tracking applications developer; - Thales SIX (France): on-board anti-collision systems developer.
  • For Public Acceptance: - Bruitparif (France): noise environment technical assessment center in the Ile-de-France region; - Ecole Polytechnique (France): engineering school with an Executive Master's specializing on technological innovation and new business models; - Envirosuite (Australia): real-time and localized data collection technologies provider allowing industries to improve their environmental performance; - UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation studies, NEXTOR (USA): research university center in transport and new mobility; - ONERA (France): public research center in the aviation, space and defense industries; - Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (Netherlands): aviation expertise, consulting and research center.