Wisk Aero, the Boeing and Kitty Hawk joint venture specializing in flying taxis, is partnering with Skyports. The latter designs, develops and operates “vertiports”, sites specially designed to accommodate electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The objective of this partnership announced in April 2022 is to best define the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the eVTOLs.
A draft concept of operations
While air mobility services will likely first launch with pilots on board, autonomy is key to deploying such services at scale and at an affordable price. The two partners explain that they ensure that the ground infrastructure is able to accommodate autonomous eVTOLs.
Wisk and Skyports want to identify and assess the essential areas for this activity, whether at the level of the aircraft themselves (functionalities, capacities, interfaces, etc.), passenger services, schedule planning, management ground operations, final approach and take-off, navigation aids, contingency and airspace management.
The partners have already released a draft “Concept of Operations” (ConOps) that identifies how autonomous and piloted eVTOLs will integrate with vertiports as well as interactions with service providers. Necessary modifications and procedural changes are also described. The route of an autonomous eVTOL and its link with the infrastructure as well as the interactions with the transport operator are described.
Vertiport prototype opens in Coventry
Shortly after, Urban-Air Port announced the opening of its prototype transport hub for flying taxis and other drones. Located in Coventry in the United Kingdom, this hub called Air-One was announced by Hyundai in January 2021. The car manufacturer then explained that it wanted to use this space to highlight the use cases of eVTOL (flying taxis, logistics, emergencies ).
“From design to manufacturing and now to operation, Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in just 15 months”, commented Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port. The start-up adds that this prototype will be operational for a month. Concretely, the Air-One is a prefabricated vertiport designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly. The aim is to show how air mobility can reduce congestion and pollution.
For the moment the Coventry site plans to host demonstration flights, but the start-up does not specify which companies will fly their aircraft. Loading cargo for unmanned drones and recharging eVTOLs will also be tested. BBC. West Midlands Police, meanwhile, said a team would be there to display the equipment and give visitors an insight into the use of drones in policing.
Other deployments of vertiports are to come since Urban-Air Port wishes to open more than 200 sites throughout the world in the next 5 years, in particular in UNITED STATESAustralia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Southeast Asia.
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Flying taxis in search of an optimized infrastructure
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