Urban-Air Port (UAP), the vertiport developer behind the Air One vertiport in Coventry in the UK, and GKN Aerospace are collaborating to explore smart infrastructure for urban air mobility (UAM), specifically for large, high capacity eVTOL passenger shuttle operations.
GKN has recently completed the initial feasibility studies for the Skybus research project that explored the potential for a six rotor, 30 person eVTOL concept to help decarbonise and decongest urban landscapes. The studies have identified significant opportunities for air 'buses' to operate alongside air taxis in future air mobility transport, primarily for intracity and airport shuttle services. They have the potential to unlock access to more remote areas such as islands and mountainous regions. Integration into urban environments with intermodal transport connectivity is key to the success of Skybus larger-scale passenger transportation and is enabled by Air One's uniquely compact footprint and patented technologies.
The cost and feasibility of implementing such a system will be highly dependent on the land take of the vertiport, and therefore a new eVTOL network introduced into a congested city must consider space efficiency as a priority. UAP's Air One model, one of UAP's suite of infrastructure solutions, is modular by design, scalable and ultra-compact and affords a low CAPEX and OPEX infrastructure that can be tailored to serve larger eVTOLs such as Skybus, while continuing to be vehicle agnostic. This enhanced Air One model includes multiple hangars, multi-level take off and landing zones and flexible stands uniquely incorporating a multiple apron ramp system (MARS) for eVTOLs. These are just some of Air One's new design features that will enable Skybus and other eVTOLs to co-exist and successfully operate in a dense urban environment. UAP's technology and modular systems were envisioned for an evolving regulatory environment and the new design responds to and informs recent EASA guidelines whilst delivering and building on the core DNA of UAP.
“We're very excited to be working with GKN Aerospace, a world-leader in the aerospace and UAM industry, on this ground breaking and game-changing project," says UAP founder and executive chairman Ricky Sandhu. "By working in collaboration with GKN Aerospace and understanding the functional requirements of Skybus we have defined a tailored version of our Air One model that allows a future of larger eVTOLs to efficiently fit into complex city environments around the world. We have aligned visions to realise sustainable, scalable and viable advanced air mobility systems to unleash clean, seamless and affordable air travel for all.”
“At GKN Aerospace, we are passionate about technologies that bring economic, social and environmental benefits for future generations," adds VP technology Max Brown. "It will take a range of technologies and collaboration across the whole industry to achieve our net zero goal. Collaborating with UAP on development of vertiport concepts is a great example of GKN's ambition to work in partnership to inspire our customers into new markets, products and technologies.”
UAP offers a world-class customer experience for passengers in Air One. A full suite of products and services from some of the largest and most-recognised global retail brands, and food and beverage service partners will be available through its digital platform Urban-Air Choice. Passengers in the lounge will be able to explore the fully integrated app and browse through the experiential retail pop-ups while enjoying food and drink from the Urban-Air Café. These features will enable Air One to fully capitalise on the non-aeronautical revenue potential of urban air mobility. This will also complement the opportunities Skybus presents as a mass transit service with a greater potential passenger footfall per aircraft, which in turn will subsidise operational costs enabling reduced ticket prices. UAP and GKN Aerospace are looking forward to further opportunities for collaboration with the shared goal of making UAM affordable and accessible for all.
UPA has joined ACI Europe, an association representing European airports and promoting professional excellence in airport management and operations; its first vertiport operator member.
The potential for urban air mobility (UAM) services to be deployed at an airport as well as at new dedicated sites is rapidly developing as one of the most exciting new paradigms in aviation. New aircraft and air traffic management technologies offer the prospect of eVTOL aircraft offering innovative advanced mobility solutions. This creates new opportunities, and regulatory requirements, for airports and vertiports, as explored in ACI Europe's UAM position paper.
For Europe's airports, eVTOL technology offers new opportunities for feeding traffic between airports, cities and regions, and a highly complementary role as a hub for low-carbon transport and traffic. As such, the integration of vertiport capabilities and related infrastructure both operational and virtual is a logical next step for many airports and a timely and relevant addition to the European airport association's membership footprint.
“The inclusion of Urban-Air Port into our membership is incredibly significant," says director general Olivier Jankovec. "Airports are not just transitioning to sustainable and digitised operations, they are transforming at the forefront of what it means to be a driver of environmentally relevant innovations and services. Vertiports will become an intrinsic part of that journey, both within existing airport infrastructure and as new stand alone mobility infrastructure. I'm thrilled to welcome it on board, as ACI Europe looks at bringing together and serving both conventional airports and vertiports.”
“Urban-Air Port offers a turnkey solution to clients including ground infrastructure, the digital and air infrastructure," adds COO Andrea Wu. "Certification and legislation are key aspects to the advanced air mobility sector, and we are excited to have created the first precedent earlier this year. We are delighted to work with ACI Europe and partners to tailor our solutions for the rapidly evolving industry. The synergies with airports are clear and the partnerships we can forge with them will be nothing short of transformative.”
“We are building on the successful work UAP has done with the UK CAA in Coventry, with over 150 safe logistics drone operations in an urban environment. UAP celebrates this opportunity as being a part of ACI Europe, which also unlocks relationships with ACI World and the other ACI regions,” notes Sandhu.