Volocopter switches on the Neom flights

Neom, the huge new city being built on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, has created a joint venture with Germany’s Volocopter to provide air transport for the conurbation.

VTOL craft
Future move: Two-seat VoloCity electric VTOL craft will provide passenger transport around the new Neom city. It has not yet been decided whether they will have a pilot, be controlled remotely or fly completely autonomously. Image: VoloCopter.

Neom and Volocopter have agreed an order for 10 two-seater VoloCity passenger vehicles and five VoloDrone cargo vehicles, with the aim of creating an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) ecosystem for logistics, tourism and emergency response.

Neom’s transport system will be designed to move people and goods without extensive surface infrastructure, preserving the natural environment.

The eVTOL system will start operating within the next two to three years and connect Neom’s main urban development, ‘The Line’, with the Oxagon industrial city and other regional destinations.

“The initial plan is to have fixed routes, implying there will be vertiports from which the aircraft will take off and land,” said a VoloCopter spokeswoman. “It has not yet been decided whether the VoloCity fleet will be crewed, remotely piloted, or autonomous. This will likely evolve over time as the city is designed and prepared for operation in 2025.”

The vehicles will fly too low to be tracked by conventional air traffic radar. To allow safe operation and to keep clear of each other, they will use the company’s VoloIQ system, which will include air operation control, to avoid other aircraft and change routes when necessary. It is not yet known how large the eventual fleet will be.

“Neom’s urban mobility system is centred around humans, and the idea is to not use cars, but to have all necessary facilities within walking distance, and other shared mobility for further travel,” said the spokeswoman.

“Our VoloCity and VoloDrone will transport passengers and goods within and around Neom. The joint venture will first trial the integration of vertical mobility with other types of public transportation, while testing ideal flight routes using the initial fleet. The future fleet will need to be discussed once integration and operational planning begins.”

 The new city will implement what it describes as the first truly sustainable and seamlessly connected transport system powered by 100% renewable energy, with zero-emission vehicles.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.