Volocopter To Build eVTOL Network in Futuristic Saudi Region

The German-based electric aircraft manufacturer is partnering with Saudi Arabia on a planned, eco-friendly region called Neom.

An artist’s rendering of Neom Bay, which is planned to be built in northwest Saudi
Arabia. Credit: neom-property.com

Volocopter is partnering with Saudi Arabia to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight operations for a planned industrial, residential, and tourist zone called Neom. 

The German-based company Wednesday announced an initial order to buy 10 VoloCity two-seat, multicopter eVTOL air taxis and five VoloDrone drones to launch Neom’s urban air mobility (UAM) program, according to a release. 

Volocopter CCO Christian Bauer described the partnership as a “once in a lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation.”

The announcement comes in the wake of Volocopter’s decision not to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). 

The agreement includes an initial order to buy 10 VoloCity eVTOL air taxis, such as the one seen here. Credit: Volocopter

‘Global Living Lab’ 

With the first phase planned for completion by 2025, Neom will be located on the Red Sea, in the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia. Developers say Neom aims to serve as a “global living lab for future mobility” including a multi-modal, zero-emission public transit system. 

“In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the center of the equation,” said Neom CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr in the release.

Scaled-up UAM activities are slated to start in early 2022. Volocopter’s aircraft will be used to “incubate” urban air mobility in the region and “seed a vertical mobility ecosystem” including logistics, emergency response, and tourism. Initial flight operations are expected “within 2-3 years,” the release said.

Volocopter has also made recent inroads toward eventually bringing air taxi service to Paris, Los Angeles, China, Japan, and South Korea

Planned Cities 

The Neom district includes more than 450 kilometers (280 miles) of coastline, including a carbon emissions-free city named Oxagon which will be focused on manufacturing. 

The zone’s eVTOL network will connect Oxagon with Neom’s core urban development, called The Line. Traveling by air will avoid “intrusive road construction” the statement said, to protect the region’s “unique natural environment.”

The region also includes “breathtakingly diverse terrain and a hospitable climate,” including beaches, coral reefs and mountains.

Another city planned for the region, Neom Bay, is backed by more than $500 billion in Saudi government financing, according to its website.  

Neom Bay’s energy sources will be renewable, the site says. Water will come from desalination facilities that “will be made without the disposal of any harmful materials or residues.”

Neom is the brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and is part of the country’s plan to diversify its oil-based economy by 2030.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter