French start-up AirNova has ambitious plans to take domestic ground transportation to the skies with emerging electric take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), and is currently seeking funding for its project to build a network of multi-purpose airports across France.
The Bordeaux-based company is focused on achievable goals that it believes will help it achieve its broader national ambitions. To that end, in October AirNova announced a campaign to raise $3.2 million for business development – a seemingly modest sum in the wider eVTOL sector, while attracting billions of investments, but enough for the startup to upgrade its vertiport plans.
These include the construction of a number of elevated aerial facilities based on a patented design and making them available to various operators, including air taxis, freight transport, last mile delivery drones and units used by medical and emergency services. Variations in ground level are also possible where environments require it.
To read: First crewed eVTOL air taxi test flight at AAM vertiport debut in Rome
Several established and much larger groups are already working to create this kind of infrastructure, including Skyports, Volocopter’s ground services unit, and even Urban Blue, backed by a collective of airport operators in Italy and southern France. AirNova CEO Laurent Mathionlon, however, believes that his small team’s unique experience and in-depth knowledge of how French cities, communities and businesses operate gives them the strengths to rise well above their weight – and gain a solid foothold in the developing world. air transport services.
AirNova is currently conducting research on approximately 10 vertiport test rigs and is developing its own design concept to fully meet the needs of eVTOL manufacturers. The model is based on an elevated structure, the lower floors of which will be used for travel functions – reception, check-in, waiting rooms, etc. – and on the roof there are two landing pads and two places for charging and maintenance.
While this may not be radically different from other vertiport companies’ approach to eVTOL infrastructure development, AirNova already thinks far beyond individual or individual city strategies and envisions a nationwide network of installations connecting regions.
In addition to transporting goods and passengers within cities over distances of 10 to 30 km, AirNova airports aim to connect more distant cities and regions with eVTOL flights of 50 to 300 km. As is often the case with similar projects, the AirNova terminals will serve as hubs for surrounding ground transportation, including buses, subways and commuter trains.
“Our goal is to propose new utility values through innovative development… for the benefit of our customers who will be operating on site,” explains Mathiolon, a veteran French property manager who has specialized in eVTOL capabilities in the field in recent years. “For over three years I have been working on a new form of air mobility, using our patented AirNova design to develop a vertiport infrastructure in France and then in Europe, for the transport of both goods and people by drones.”
Will it work with so many bigger competitors already going full steam ahead? AirNova thinks so and continues to recruit business angels, institutional investors and maybe even – who knows? – eVTOL artisans, such as Airbus from Toulouse.
To read: UAM cooperation to promote Airbus eVTOL air taxis in Italy
Meanwhile, the opportunities remain quite promising for forward-thinking companies in France, where infrastructure construction for next-generation aircraft is not ahead of the curve, even though the country is expected to host the world’s first air taxi services during the 2024 Paris Olympics.
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