The test campaign focused on the flight performance of the Volocopter aircraft in local climate and environmental conditions. Image Credit: Supplied

Neom: Air taxi test flights were successfully carried out in Saudi Arabia’s Neom, it was announced on Wednesday.

This marks the first time an eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft has received a special flight authorisation and performed test flights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The flight test campaign lasted over a week and built on 18 months of collaboration between Neom, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and Volocopter.

Nadhmi Al Nasr, CEO of NEOM, said: “The successful test flight of a Volocopter eVTOL is not just another milestone towards the creation of Neom’s innovative, sustainable, multimodal transportation system – it is a tangible example of Neom as a global accelerator and incubator of solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Driving the development of smart, sustainable, and safe mobility systems will improve livability and connectivity in cities around the world and reduce carbon emissions, creating a cleaner future for all.”

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Abdulaziz A. Al Duailej, President of GACA, said: “This safe and successful test flight represents an important milestone of the Saudi aviation sector and another steady step towards achieving the aviation sector’s strategy, through innovation and employing emerging technologies to create new industries that contribute to the output GDP and create more jobs. It also confirms GACA’s commitment to enabling the safe integration of innovative air transport patterns that improve the mobility experience of individuals in urban areas and the quality of life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The test campaign focused on the flight performance of the Volocopter aircraft in local climate and environmental conditions, as well as testing its integration into the local unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) system.

Volocopter eVTOLs will be key to Neom’s smart and sustainable multimodal mobility system, which will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, generated by solar and wind energy sources. They will be used in a variety of roles, including as air taxis and emergency response vehicles, and are quieter, more easily adaptable, and cheaper to operate than the helicopters often employed today. They have smaller on-ground infrastructure footprint, fewer operating restrictions, and employ smart and autonomous capabilities that ensure both safety and sustained relevance in future contexts.

The test flight announcement builds on Neom’s 175 million euro investment and joint venture with Volocopter.