Drone-like vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying car air taxis have been showing up at CES shows for years—Cadillac even showed one in 2021. But most experts don’t expect the first air taxi to be certified for use until 2024 at the earliest. At CES 2022, French startup MACA announced plans to get its hydrogen fuel-cell-powered electric VTOL “carcopter,” as they call it, off the ground before then. How do they hope to jump the government certification line? By flying low and restricting themselves to the airspace immediately above Formula 1 racetracks.
European aircraft giant Airbus has an innovation committee, which selected the S11 concept for further development out of 250 projects presented in the mid 20-teens. Airbus Helicopters R&D then developed the carcopter project for three years, culminating in the flight of a working prototype in 2019. Then in November of 2020, the MACA startup was spun off to commercialize the project, helmed by founders Thierry de Boisvilliers, and Michael Krollak. Both are Airbus Helicopters veterans, and de Boisvilliers is a retired fighter pilot. It was their idea to develop a racing series for their S11 carcopter.