Japan Airlines, Volocopter aim to commercialize air taxis in Japan within three years
Japan Airlines and Volocopter GmbH entered into a cooperation agreement to promote the development of the Urban Air Mobility sector, focusing on both passenger and cargo air transportation, in Japan.
Back in February 2020, Japan Airlines (JAL) through its Japan Airlines Innovation Fund invested in Germany’s Volocopter along with two other mobility companies, including: Bestmile SA of Switzerland, which develops software for optimizing vehicle allocation, and Fetch Robotics Inc. of the United States, which develops automated transport robotics and management platforms.
Volocopter is focused on developing electrically powered air taxis and heavy-lift cargo drone technologies, both of which interest JAL. On September 16, at the Greentech Festival in Berlin, Volocopter opened up what it describes as the world’s first public sale for electrical air taxi flight reservations. At the time, the Munich-based company, with vehicle and air-taxi certifications still pending, projected a timeline to launch commercial flights in the next two to three years.
With this new agreement, JAL and Volocopter will strengthen their partnership to jointly explore business opportunities for air mobility services, specifically around Volocopter’s eVTOL technology, in Japan. The agreement outlines the development of what Volocopter and JAL describe as establishing a permanent sustainable commercial operations of air taxis in Japan.
JAL states, that by establishing local partnerships and jointly approaching Japanese cities and prefectures, while also working on market demand and social acceptance, it and Volocopter are preparing for a commercial launch of air taxi services within the next three years. In October 2019, Volocopter successfully performed a piloted flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay and the company is currently focused on receiving commercial certification for its VoloCity aircraft by the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency).
JAL notes it will provide this enhanced Urban Air Mobility partnership with in-depth knowledge to help develop a mobility platform based on years of safe aircraft operation. JAL was founded in 1951 and became the first international airline in Japan. The airline now reaches 405 airports in 66 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners. JAL also aims to leverage the Volocopter partnership to deliver medical care in remote areas of the country.
Today, JAL, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, and MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting, which are all invested in Volocopter, also announced a collaboration to accelerate Volocopter’s entry into the Japanese market. JAL notes the collaboration of airline operator, insurance provider, and business development partners, as well as an Urban Air Mobility vehicle developer, makes this approach sustainable and promising.