The UK CAA has launched a consultation on design proposals for vertiports at existing aerodromes, paving the way for vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft operations in the United Kingdom.
Vertiports are sites used for the arrival, departure and surface movement of VTOL aircraft. With hundreds of airfields dotted across the UK, a network to connect communities by air will be possible with the introduction of this infrastructure.
The policy will help prepare for eVTOL aircraft to operate in the UK. These aircraft, often referred to as air taxis, are designed to land and take off like helicopters, but are powered by electricity and have the potential to provide more efficient and sustainable ways to travel between cities and airports.
The new consultation from UK's aviation regulator looks to ensure that the future operations at those aerodromes looking to support eVTOL operations are safe, efficient, equitable and secure. It comes after extensive engagement with representatives from across the industry including vertiport developers, existing aerodromes and potential operators.
Sophie O'Sullivan, head of future safety and innovation, says: "We are a committed partner to the Government's Future of Flight Programme, and enabling the introduction of innovative infrastructure is one of our key strategic objectives. This consultation is a big step towards enabling this new and innovative way of travelling to become part of our everyday life.
"UK aerodromes are vital in unlocking the future of aviation operations. By leveraging existing regulation, we're enabling future operators and aerodromes to develop their understanding and operational expertise, at the same time as growing our collective knowledge of the technology and operational scenarios to support this infrastructure."
The proposals put forward by the UK CAA acknowledge that existing aerodromes are already equipped to handle aviation activities and are best placed to have the first design specifications for vertiports introduced. Using existing infrastructure will give VTOL aircraft a place to operate from while the aviation industry becomes more familiar with their design, operations and performance.
The factors being consulted on look at placing additional safety requirements on existing aerodromes should they want to establish VTOL aircraft operations. These include:
- The design of operating areas
- Obstacle limitation surfaces and visual aids
- Rescue and firefighting services.
The design principles set out will form the initial basis of bespoke vertiport design, the further detail of which will be established once VTOL aircraft manufacturers and operators provide further data.
It follows the regulator publishing guidance on how the eVTOL industry could adopt key consumer principles, which highlighted the importance of new aircraft and infrastructure being accessible for those with reduced mobility.