German air taxi passes test flight

An electric air taxi made in Germany has successfully performed its first manned flight in Singapore.

German air taxi passes test flight

Singapore (dpa) - German air mobility start-up Volocopter debuted its urban air taxi prototype in Singapore on Tuesday, amid hopes that the city-state will become the first country to allow a commercial launch of its services as early as 2021.

The prototype took off from Marina Bay, located near the central business district and circled the surrounding area for about one minute before returning to its launchpad.

The prototype - the Volocopter 2X - resembles a small helicopter, but is affixed with 18 propellers on a circular overhead attachment, instead of one main rotor.

Its current iteration can carry one pilot and one passenger across distances of up to 30 kilometres, can take off and land vertically, and is electrically powered and emissions free.

The air taxi is expected to be made commercially available in Singapore between two to five years' time, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said during a press conference on Monday.

"Standing inside the VoloPort [the landing site for the Volocopter] makes urban air mobility feel extremely real and demonstrates that air taxi operations are not a faraway future," he said.

When queried about the affordability of a Volocopter flight, Reuter said the goal was to reduce the cost to that of a limousine ride, making it an "accesible mode of transport for all of us."

The company is planning to eventually move towards autonomously-manned aircraft and to expand the prototype to carry five to six passengers per flight.