The “eFliegen BW test field”, funded by the Ministry for Business, Labor and Housing, continues to take shape. In just a few weeks, test flights for external partners should also be possible at the two locations in Lahr and Mengen near Sigmaringen. “Electric, energy-efficient, and autonomous flying can be an important element of future mobility. Baden-Wuerttemberg is in an excellent starting position in this area. In order for us to remain at the forefront of electric and autonomous flying, we have to interlink science and business. With the test field, we are trying out new concepts under realistic conditions,” says the Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut.
The construction of the test field is coordinated by the Institute of Flight Mechanics and Control at the University of Stuttgart. “In the future, highly automated hybrid-electric aircraft could support both urban mobility and individual transport over medium distances. There are also numerous other future-oriented fields of application. These include, for example, electrically operated drones for disaster relief or for monitoring large-scale forest fires. The test field is an ideal platform for testing relevant technologies and systems,” says Prof. Dr. Walter Fichter.
It is currently in the construction phase, which will be completed by the end of the year. Now that individual project partners have carried out the first test flights, the test field is to become available also to external partners in a few weeks, after the corona restrictions have been relaxed.
Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter: “As a young company based in Baden-Wuerttemberg, it is great that we consistently get active support from the state government. That helps us to advance our innovative technology. When you establish a whole new market as we have done at Volocopter, such an initiative can be crucial to the company’s international success.”
The Ministry for Business, Labor and Housing is funding the project with EUR 1.3 million. Establishing the “eFliegen BW test field” at two locations makes it possible to meet the specific requirements of both urban and autonomous flying. The test site in Lahr is particularly suitable for urban flying, whereas the site in Mengen-Hohentengen is particularly well suited for testing autonomous flying, i.e. without a pilot on board.
Social challenges such as climate change and increasing urbanization are pushing more and more existing transport systems to their limits. Mobility concepts of the future must face these challenges. A strong trend in this area is electric and autonomous flying, which covers a wide range of aircraft. In the fields of electric drives and autonomy in aviation, the so-called air taxis play a central role, as they are intended to transport people and goods over short to medium distances in the future.
Baden-Wuerttemberg is in a very good starting position when it comes to the development of electrically powered and automated aircraft, especially air taxis. One of the world’s leading companies in the development of air taxis is the Volocopter company in Bruchsal, which is also one of the project partners. Also, the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has an excellent research landscape in this area. For example, there is a long tradition of aerospace technology research at the University of Stuttgart, with an independent faculty that comprises more than ten institutes in this field. The faculty is also heavily involved in industrial projects in the field of air taxis.