The flying car is approaching reality –

We see it in movies, video games or comics. But reality is catching up with fiction. From now on, the Swedish brand Jetson offers its flying machine to the general public.

Maybe you dreamed of sitting in one drone to walk between mountains or avoid traffic jams. With its sky buggy, the Swedish company Jetson allows you to live this experience.

In its data sheet, the device can take you up to 400 meters above sea level for a speed of 100 km / h. Electric motors allow a flight of about twenty minutes. Price of the object: just under 90,000 francs. The company has sold three in Switzerland. They will be delivered in 2023.

>> Jetson One presentation video:

Are we allowed to take off in Switzerland with this plane? Is a permit required? What are the flight rules? Is it safe? The questions multiply, as the object is still unusual. Because this machine does not fall into any category.

The decision is without appeal. “This device is not certified and cannot be used in Switzerland,” said Antonello Laveglia, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). And buyers can’t change that. The manufacturer must have its system certified innovative.

Problem. The legal basis for certification does not exist, according to OFAC. “The work required for certification would be very important because the applicable legal requirements would also need to be defined. In addition, the requirements for pilots (training / licensing) as well as procedures should also be established,” he explains. Antonello Laveglia.

No certified devices in Europe

At present, no such vehicle is approved in Europe. However, the work is progressing. It is developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). A number of rules on the operation of drones have just been published and a proposal for a regulation to operate “air taxis” should be made available to the public in the coming weeks.

The central concept of these approaches is urban air mobilityunderstand the transport of passengers or goods in complex environments such as cities.

And the challenges are many for EASA. Navigation standards, pilot training (on board or at a distance) or the safe integration of these aircraft into current airspace.

But the administrative machine is set in motion. So we could have some kind of flying cars in our sky. And faster than you think. The European agency believes that this urban air mobility should become a reality 3 to 5 years. Japan or South Korea are preparing for the arrival of flying taxis for 2025.

A fleet of drones

But don’t imagine “back to the future” cars or “fifth element” taxis. Today, the devices are mostly electric and look more like small drones or helicopters.

Investors believe in it and the projects multiply. In March, it raised one of the market leaders, the German start-up Volocopter 170 millions of dollars. Now, all the major manufacturers are joining. Airbus, Hyundai, Suzuki, Boeing, Rolls-Royce. The future market will be billions.

And Switzerland is no exception. Zurich’s Dufour Aerospace is working with Rega to create the air ambulance of the future. The company just started in Canada, Montrealthe second largest helicopter market in the world.

Now all eyes are on Singapore. Volocopter is expected to open the first commercial line to carry passengers in 2024, a year later than the original schedule.

>> Test flight in airplane flight to Singapore

Initially, they will be tourist flights over Marina Bay, then cross-border flights to Indonesia and Malaysia. The project envisages the installation of four to six vertiports by 2030.

In Paris for the Olympics?

A system that should eventually be found in several major cities. In Europe, in Paris, the race is launched to hold a demonstration on the occasion of the 2024 Olympic Games. The region wants to take advantage of the media coverage to present its Skills center around Paris Airport (ADP) and the RATP.

The goal is to be able to cover about thirty kilometers in the city of Paris in just fifteen minutes. The price? Between one and two euros per kilometer, according to the will of the RATP in 2020.

In March, a prototype of the Volocopter 2X conducted test flights at Pontoise airfield. The electric vertical take-off and landing plane (eVTOL) carried a pilot, but was also piloted remotely.

>> Volocopter at Pontoise Airfield (F) for acoustic testing

Technology made to last in the French capital. “We see that there are cases of use that can be set up quickly, in particular for the transfer of organs, blood bags or perhaps even patients between hospitals in Ile-de-France,” says Romain Erny , mobility expert from Choose Paris Region. , an economic promotion association.

In large congested cities, drones could also provide services for the transport of goods in the event of an emergency. “Secondly, we will think about passenger transport,” says Romain Erny. “We also believe that the capacity of these aircraft should be increased. They should be able to carry more than one pilot and their passenger.”

We are still a long way from competing for the subway, train or bus. At the heart of the process, the developers of these projects are asking themselves a question: how to make this new technology acceptable to the public?

Manage discomfort

Because the inconvenience is numerous. First of all: security. In high-density areas, no one wants to risk an accident that would ruin their confidence. Therefore, reliability is required, or at least equivalent to current air traffic.

Another issue is the noise that the plane makes when it flies at an altitude of between 100 and 300 meters above the city. Electric motors are large fans that would make three to four times less noise than a helicopter. Steps are currently being taken to define a maximum certification threshold.

We must not create jealousy in society. We can already hear drivers caught in traffic jams against these wind-spinning devices. Privacy also has an impact. These new air corridors will offer new views of buildings or gardens. Not to mention some visual pollution.

The technology is still in development. Once the laws have been passed, the population and politicians will be convinced, a new pill will be approved: autonomous transport. As with cars, the industry dreams of a system driven entirely by artificial intelligence.

Pascal Wassmer

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