Who Will Pilot the Passenger Drones of Tomorrow? Volocopter and CAE Partner to Train the Air Taxi Workforce

pilot passenger drones

© Volocopter

Who will pilot passenger drones and air taxis? As urban air mobility and other advanced air mobility projects advance, a workforce shortage looms.   Aviation training firm CAE and urban air mobility pioneer Volocopter have partnered to train the pilots that the industry will desperately need.

Urban air mobility, drone taxis, flying cars, passenger drones, and other electic vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) innovations are often discussed in terms of autonomous flight and unmanned systems.  As cities begin to allow eVTOL aircraft to integrate into the transportation systems, however, they will be piloted: at least at first.  Many designs offer a high degree of autonomy, and may be used as unmanned systems as regulations allow.  In the decades that it will take to gather sufficient safety data and move through processes until that happens, up to 60,000 new pilots for passenger drones will be needed.

Now, aviation training firm CAE and Volocopter have partnered to ensure that those pilots are ready.  The two companies have partnered “to develop an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) pilot training program in preparation for Volocopter’s first eVTOL aircraft upcoming entry-into-service,” says a Volocopter press release.  “CAE commits to expanding its international training network to support Volocopter’s growth and global pilot training with a forecasted investment of up to US$40 million. “

It’s an industry first – but a necessary initial step.   As urban air mobiltiy applications develop and Volocopter looks forward to launching services in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris – expanding rapidly – time is running out to train a pilot workforce.  “Through existing agreements and partnerships with global leaders, such as Daimler, Aéroports de Paris, Microsoft Azure, and now CAE, Volocopter plans to launch its services in a number of cities globally within the next five years. Volocopter is committed to seeking certification with the highest global safety standards for aircraft and operations.”

Training pilots for passenger drones and eVTOL aircraft will require developing an entirely new curriculum – and figuring out the best way to teach pilots when the vehicles are not yet widely available flight.  At least at first, significant training will be offered through simulation.

CAE commits to expanding its worldwide training network with a forecasted investment of up to US$40 million to meet Volocopter’s projected pilot demand in the early years of operation. CAE will be deploying training equipment and instructors in lockstep with Volocopter’s growth. As part of the agreement, Volocopter will purchase a simulator from CAE to be used in its pilot training program certification. CAE will create new, student-centric courseware, specifically designed for the pilots of the future as Volocopter’s courseware provider and will also offer pilot trainees customized resources that enable faster, more efficient pilot training.

“As we scale our UAM services in cities around the world, specific pilot training and qualification for our Volocopters will be an important element. We are proud to be partnering with CAE, who have a track record in developing best-in-class, innovative pilot training solutions for new aircraft programs. It will greatly benefit Volocopter’s entry-into-service timeline and scale,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “We are excited about CAE’s endorsement and look forward to collaborate as partners focused on combining future-oriented technologies to ensure aviation safety.”

“As a high-technology company and the industry leader in pilot training, we continuously look at providing solutions that make the world a safer place,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “We are committed to supporting Volocopter’s inspiring vision and we look forward to leading in the design of UAM pilot training that prioritizes safety of operations through our data-driven solutions, world-class pilot training experience, and longstanding relationships with civil aviation authorities across the globe.”

As outlined in CAE’s Advanced Air Mobility white paper published this month, advanced air mobility will create an additional surge in the demand for pilots, with an estimated 60,000 pilots needed within the first decade of operation. Volocopter and CAE will work closely together to obtain regulatory approval for their pilot training program of the future.