Laying the groundwork for air traffic of the future - KU takes part in Air Mobility Initiative

© Airbus Helicopters

In order to advance electric air travel, leading businesses, universities and research centers are closing ranks with municipalities and other organizations to pool their expertise in the newly-founded Air Mobility Initiative (AMI). Among the initiative’s members are the KU, Airbus, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Flugsicherung, Diehl Aerospace, Droniq, Munich airport, the city of Ingolstadt and Telekom. The initiative that is supported with funds from the Bavarian Freestate and the Republic of Germany is expected to start a number of research projects. These cooperative projects are centered on “electric aircraft”, “air traffic management” and “vertiport” - all of which take a closer look at ground infrastructure.

“We will study the different elements of such a transport system in real-world projects to get an accurate picture of the technical and regulatory requirements” said Andreas Thellmann, head of Air Mobility Initiative. “Electric air traffic can complement public transport, airports and time-critical services - and it will be environmentally friendly, quiet and safe.”

As part of the AMI AirShuttle Project, the Chair of Service Management of the KU (Prof. Dr. Jens Hogreve) is going to focus on researching user requirements and the customer experience of an eVTOL flight (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft) between international airports. The KU is closely collaborating with the THI in this work package. The Chair is planning to conduct qualitative and quantitative studies on the model case of a flight from the inner city to the airport. These studies are meant to enable an exploration and validation of factors influencing the customer experience. In order to better immerse potential users into the scenario, the Chair is currently coordinating the development of a VR simulation that participants of the study can experience before doing the survey. In this area, the Chair’s main focus is on keeping in mind the complete customer journey of a potential eVTOL user, so as to be able to make pertinent suggestions for a smooth user experience. 

In a first step, the AMI partners will address the technological, infrastructural, legal and social requirements for future urban air travel. Then, these findings will be implemented in a pilote project under realistic conditions with vertical take-off aircrafts powered by electricity.

Work on the individual AMI projects has already started in January 2022. The test flights as part of this pilote project will take place in the greater Ingolstadt region. All in all, the Bavarian Freestate is funding this initiative with 17 million euros and the Federal Republic of Germany with 24 million euros. Added to the industry’s own funds, this results in a total figure of 86 million euros over a period of three years.