Feb. 21, 2023
Sumitomo Corporation invests in German eVTOL aircraft developer/manufacturer Volocopter -Aims to create an advanced air mobility market-
AAM is the generic term for air traffic and logistics systems using eVTOLs and unmanned aerial systems (drones). eVTOLs are environmentally friendly next-generation aircraft that produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions because they are powered by electricity, require no runways, and make little noise during takeoff and landing. They also have fewer parts that need to be maintained and should be able to fly autonomously in future, saving significant operating costs. eVTOLs are expected to enable safe, secure, affordable, and convenient air transport and logistics services with a small environmental footprint. Plans are to begin the social implementation and commercial operation of eVTOLs in Japan with the 2025 Osaka-Kansai World Expo, whose overarching concept is that of "a testing ground for future society”.
Volocopter is an eVTOL developer and manufacturer founded in 2011 in Bruchsal, Germany, and more than 500 employees are involved in the development of the VoloCity to bring it in line with the same level safety requirements applicable to existing aircraft. The company plans to obtain type certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2024 ahead of its global competitors, and to begin operating the VoloCity in the same year. Volocopter intends in the following year (2025) to obtain type certificate from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and start operating the VoloCity at the Osaka-Kansai Expo. In parallel with aircraft development, Volocopter has been collaborating with global partners in the airline, automobile, and logistics industries to lead the AAM industry by providing eVTOL-based transport and logistics services and by building a comprehensive ecosystem that includes the development, operation, and Vertiports. Furthermore, Volocopter has begun development of a next-generation aircraft boasting a larger passenger capacity and longer range with an eye toward future market expansion.
Sumitomo Corporation has since 2018 been considering extending its business activities into the AAM sector by leveraging its aviation industry network and know-how cultivated through diversified business activities. In 2020, Sumitomo Corporation invested in OneSky Systems Inc., a US company that develops unmanned traffic management system essential for the social implementation of AAM, and has subsequently been developing the market in Japan. At the same time, it has taken up the challenge of putting in place a sustainable logistics system that combines AAM and existing logistics through various demonstrations using small drones in Japan and overseas to solve logistics and local issues. Working with Volocopter through this investment will contribute to the development of regions and industries in harmony with the global environment by promoting AAM as a new means of air transport and logistics in Japan and by building a new sustainable social infrastructure.
■VoloCity, an eVTOL aircraft developed by Volocopter
Sumitomo Corporation’s Material Issues
Sumitomo Corporation Group positions “Six Material Issues to Achieve Sustainable Growth with Society” as an important factor in developing business strategies and in the decision-making process for individual businesses. Going forward, we will pursue sustainable growth by resolving these issues through our business activities. This project especially contributes to the following material Issues.