The world’s first ‘vertiport’ for flying taxis just opened in the UK


What is the name of the airport where flying taxis land? It's a vertiport. Last week, we got a step closer to taking a flying taxi.

In a cooperation with Supernal, Hyundai's Urban Air Mobility business, UK firm Urban-Air Port established the world's first vertiport this week. The vertiport, dubbed Air-One, is expected to accommodate future demand for autonomous drones and eVTOL passenger vehicles.

To be clear, the vertiport is a temporary installation that gives visitors a taste of what it's like to use a specialized departure and arrival facility for electric and hydrogen VTOLs.

Air-One is based in Coventry, England. The city was chosen because it is a historic centre for the car and aerospace industries, with a reservoir of people and talents that can support future R&D and innovative manufacturing. The position also allows for easy access throughout the United Kingdom, with 90 percent of the population within four hours of travel time.

The 17,000-square-foot radial Air-One was built in about 11 weeks by Urban-Air Port. The location is divided into "zones" that are fully equipped. Passenger lounges, cafés, retail pop-ups, freight logistics hubs, electric and hydrogen aircraft hangars, security screening, and a command and control center are among the amenities.

A unique 56-foot circular final approach and take-off (FATO) platform, which rises 19 feet into the air, is in prime position. To facilitate future electric air vehicle take-offs and landings, it employs a small, cutting-edge, synchronized link-lift technology.

Supernal’s concept eVTOL vehicle S-A1 is on display at Air-One.

The vertiport has Supernal’s initial concept eVTOL vehicle, S-A1, on display in the vehicle hangar. Several new electric cars, which are fueled by off-grid hydrogen fuel cells and are connected to EV chargers, are also on hand.
It's all part of Urban-Air Port's larger strategy to fill the infrastructure gap with over 200 electric air mobility hubs throughout the world in the next five years to fulfill predicted global demand.

Vertiport infrastructure is lagging

The announcement of vertiport funding was also announced last week. This is excellent news, given just 3% of air mobility investment (about $150 million) was allocated to the physical infrastructure required for commercial VTOLs in 2021.

Supernal has agreed to invest in Urban-Air Port. The money will go toward Urban-Air Port's goal of building 200 vertiports throughout the world in the next five years. As part of its effort towards green aviation, the firm was also awarded a $1.5 million grant from the UK government in 2021. M7 Real Estate is also helping to fund it.

So, how are we going to depart and disembark?

While Conventry's Urban-Air Port has built a designated airplane space, it isn't the only option.

Vertiports can be approached in two ways:
1) adapting infrastructure like airports, heliports, and parking garage roofs;
2) establishing specialized places, such as Air-One;

Joby Aviation stated in June of last year that it has reached an arrangement with REEF and Neighborhood Property Group (NPG) to have access to REEF's existing network of parking garages in important cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

The challenges of creating aircraft vertiport

Urban-Air Port has achieved an impressive pop-up vertiport in what is basically a car park.
It's unknown if the installation will be permanent or if it conforms with municipal regulations. A number of logistical and safety concerns exist. Here are a few examples:

Numbers: What is the maximum number of aircraft that can fit in the vertiport approach and take-off area (FATO)? The majority of businesses want a huge fleet that can take off and land in minutes. This need a large number of aircraft parking spaces as well as a charging station for eVTOL planes.

Safety: How will travelers securely embark and disembark? For example, because to downwash and rotor/engine risks, helicopters in the United Kingdom must be 60 meters apart under current FAA standards. For huge numbers of eVTOL aircraft, this will be significantly more difficult.

Passenger processing: Passenger processing is also related to safety. Uber Elevate suggests a five-minute turnaround time between leaving customers and the next vertiport take-off. It is logistically problematic. Consider how long it takes to get off an aircraft, board a bus, and arrive at the airport.

Security: What kind of screening will passengers go through before boarding?

Battery charging times: Aircraft need somewhere to recharge at the vertiport. Recharging times vary depending on the mode and might range from 20 minutes to an hour. At the moment, there is no battery interchange between VTOL aircraft. The sizes and configurations of various VTOLs vary.

Standardization: VTOLs come in a variety of sizes and designs.This makes vertiport standardization impossible.

Furthermore, Vertiports must meet minimal specifications that are currently being worked up by the UK FAA, aircraft manufacturers, and other industry partners.

VTOLs are on the way, but only with the correct infrastructure will they be able to take off. VTOL wings and rotors are clipped until vertiports become widely available.
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