Agreement between JAL and Volocopter
According to its press release, in February 2020, Japan Airlines (JAL) Innovation Fund made a decision to invest in Volocopter. Volocopter tries to create and bring next-generation electrically powered air taxis and heavy lift cargo drone technology. Thanks to this agreement, both companies will strengthen their partnership to jointly explore business opportunities for air mobility services.
In fact, the agreement outlines that Volocopter and JAL work on permanent sustainable commercial operations of air taxis in Japan. They try to establish local partnerships, jointly approach Japanese cities and prefectures, and work on market demand and social acceptance. As a result, JAL and Volocopter will prepare for commercial launch in Japan by 2025, the other source mentioned.
Who is JAL?
According to the same press release, Japan Airlines (JAL) was founded in 1951. The Japanese company became the first international airline in Japan, and is a member of the oneworld alliance. Thanks to the alliance, the airline can reach 405 airports in 66 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners.
JAL won the Award as one of the most punctual major international airlines and a certified 5-Star Airline by Skytrax. The company is satisfying customers with the highest levels of flight safety and quality in every aspect of its service. This is because it tries to be one of the most preferred and valued airlines in the world. Indeed, many people across the globe say “Japanese Airlines is the best airline company in the world”.
Who is Volocopter?
Volocopter tries to build the world’s first sustainable and scalable urban air mobility business. As a result, the company aims to realize affordable air taxi services to megacities worldwide.
Now, Volocopter is developing the first fully electric “eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft)” aircraft in certification to safely and quietly transport passengers within cities. In fact, the company leads and cooperates with partners in infrastructure, operations, and air traffic management to build the ecosystem.
In 2011, Volocopter performed the first-ever manned flight of a purely electric multicopter. What’s more, the most notable has been the public test flights at Singapore’s Marina Bay in October 2019. Another notable is the world’s first autonomous eVTOL flight in Dubai 2017. Furthermore, Volocopter is also developing products for the logistics and precision agriculture space with their VoloDrone.
Big company and Startup
Automotive companies are facing a huge disruption that might happen once in 100 years. This is because big technological innovations including electrification and autonomous driving reshape the landscape of the industry. Therefore, many companies including Toyota, Volkswagen, and General Motors, rethink their strategy and execution. Of course, it is not easy task and one of the difficulties is their culture. In other words, the more hierarchical structure big companies have, the more bureaucratic their culture is.
Not only does the automotive industry but also the aviation industry faces the disruption. The issue here is similar. The airline companies are big in general since they need huge money to purchase aircrafts. Decision making in big companies are likely to be slower than in startup companies. As a result, they lose agility to realize innovation compared to startups.
Thus, one solution may be the collaboration between big companies and startups. This agreement is one example, and the partnership between United Airlines and Archer is another. The market in urban mobility is expected to expand so that we will see more collaboration in the near future.