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Business Air News Bulletin
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UAM development in Korea steps up apace
A consortium of six companies aims to bring commercial UAM operations to Korea by 2025. Each brings different but complimentary specialisms to the project.
LG Uplus EVP Lee Sang-Yeop; Kakao VP Yoo Seung-Il; Jeju Air CEO E-Bae Kim; LG Science Park VP Park Il-Pyeong; GS Caltex VP Jang In-Young; Vertical Aerospace CCO Eduardo Dominguez Puerta; and Pablo Air CEO Kim Young-Joon.

In tandem with UK-headquartered Vertical Aerospace, Korea-based Kakao Mobility, LG Uplus, Jeju Air, GS Caltex and Pablo Air are to participate in a project as part of Korea's Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge (K-UAM GC).

The K-UAM GC project is organised by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to promote the domestic UAM business and establish a public-private cooperation system. Aircraft safety and traffic management function tests will be carried out, and consortium members will have to verify operating infrastructures and communications relay platforms following open-air flight demonstrations, with the aim of commercialising UAM in Korea by 2025.

The companies will cooperate across various fields, such as establishing UAM standards for the country; performing individual demonstrations to accelerate service commercialisation, and jointly seeking additional business opportunities related to the UAM industry in the future. Each will contribute expertise relating to technologies and know-how gained in various industries such as aircraft manufacture, telecommunications, operation and infrastructure networks. This first step will be to establish reliable services.

Kakao Mobility offers taxi, parking and navigation services through its Kakao T mobility-as-a-service app, through which it presents a multimodal mobility vision for both ground and sky in relation to people and objects. In order to support users' seamless movements, it plans to calculate the expected time of arrival of ground traffic such as self-driving cars, based on data analysis, and establish a vertical take off and landing facility (vertiport) solution that implements automatic check-in and security search functions by connecting operations, the traffic control system and the platform.

Chief technology officer You Seungil says: "Kakao Mobility's know-how and data in operating the MaaS platform are key to securing service accessibility for the most important users when commercialising UAM. As we are in cooperation with players in all fields of UAM, we will make efforts to introduce a complete service model and accelerate the commercialisation of UAM in South Korea."

Vertical Aerospace will make its VX4 aircraft available for use by the consortium. LG Uplus will provide traffic management systems and telecommunications services, and low cost airline Jeju Air is in charge of safe and reliable flight services. GS Caltex plans to establish a vertiport across its country-wide gas station network while drone operator Pablo Air is speeding up its drone delivery demonstration and commercialisation business so as to establish an integrated UAM operation control system.

The six companies held a business agreement ceremony at LG Science Park in Seoul.

Kakao signed an MoU in November 2021 with Volocopter to conduct a UAM feasibility study in South Korea. The findings were due to be released in February 2022. Volocopter had previously completed two public test flights at Gimpo International and Incheon airports in Seoul, as well as a public flight trial over Singapore’s Marina Bay area in 2019.

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