New Yorkers were offered a glimpse of the future on Sunday when two leading eVTOL (electric takeoff and landing) companies performed crewed demonstration flights of their aircraft in the city.
In an event billed as the world’s largest and first public event showcasing multiple eVTOL aircraft in a city environment, New York City Mayor Eric Adams looked on as Joby Aviation and Volocopter flew their fully electric aircraft to and from Manhattan’s Downtown Heliport.
Adams announced that the city plans to electrify the heliport for cleaner and quieter flights that will include the current tourist trips and hops to and from nearby airports and freight delivery.
“Today, we are taking sustainability to the sky and our street … as we electrify our heliport infrastructure,” said Mayor Adams. “Our vision for the Downtown Manhattan Heliport will create the world’s first heliport with infrastructure for electric-powered aircraft and put this public asset to work for New Yorkers as a hub for sustainable transportation and local deliveries.”
Adams added that the move would deal with the “persistent quality-of-life issue with helicopter noise, [and] also get trucks off the road and make our streets safer.”
It’s not clear when the facility will be up and running as it first needs building out for electric aircraft, and Joby and Volocopter’s flying machines still need to clear a number of regulatory hurdles.
California-based Joby has been working on its electric aircraft for more than a decade and has received backing from the likes of Toyota, Intel, and Delta Air Lines. The company shared images of its New York flight in a post on social media on Tuesday:
Besides being a whole lot greener, eVTOL aircraft also feature a much lower acoustic footprint than today’s helicopters, making it a better fit for urban areas. Joby’s vehicle has five seats and can reach speeds of up to 200 mph, while Volocopter’s fits two passengers and has a top speed of 62 mph.
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- Watch first footage of Joby’s all-electric VTOL aircraft in flight