UK-based ground infrastructure developer Urban-Air Port has opened the UK’s first vertiport for drones and eVTOL aircraft in the city of Coventry.
The Air-One vertiport has received £1.2 million (US$1.65 million) of funding from the UK Government and is amongst the first to be built in the world.
Air-One is billed as a “pop-up airport” with a modular design and has the capability to use an off-grid power supply. The vertiport, which is 60% smaller than a heliport has been designed to be built and dismantled quickly and is intended for use in both urban environments and in regions that require the deployment of humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
The vertiport, the construction of which was announced in January 2021 has been built in a car park in Coventry in the West Midlands, to act as a testing site for both eVTOL aircraft and cargo drone developers. It will also serve to demonstrate the infrastructure concept to prospective customers – Urban-Air Port aims to install more than 200 vertiports during the next five years to meet predicted “growing demand” for places to take-off and land eVTOL aircraft and drones.
The company plans to build other vertiports in the UK, including in London, and internationally in Los Angeles, USA, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia.
Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port said, “From design through to fabrication and now into operation, Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in just 15 months, setting the standard for deployment globally and opening up a world of possibilities for rapid response air mobility.
“Air-One is just the first model in our infrastructure fleet and our order-book is not only open but already growing. The interest is turning into recognition of the need for our technology and into demand.”
Air-One will host live demonstrations of remote aircraft command and control, charging / refuelling and cargo and passenger loading for manned and unmanned eVTOL aircraft operating.
West Midlands Police and UK-based aerial logistics startup Skyfarer will be the first to operate flights from the site. Their test programs will demonstrate how vertiports can provide drone bases for aerial police operations and cargo deliveries in the near future.
Flights of large cargo drones will also be demonstrated by drone developer, Malloy Aeronautics. Hyundai-backed eVTOL aircraft developer Supernal is another partner on the project.
In addition, Air-One will host charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, to show how different low-carbon transport modes can integrate.
Mike Whitaker, chief commercial officer of Supernal said, “The Coventry demonstration is an important first step forward to reimagining how people across the world will move, connect and live.
German eVTOL aircraft and drone-developer Volocopter and aviation infrastructure company Skyports opened a demonstrator vertiport in Singapore in October 2019. Skyports is also working on a project to build a vertiport in Paris for use during the 2024 Olympics.