A new site for eVTOL aircraft is being developed in Coventry in a bid to bring aerial urban transport to the UK in the near future.
This is what the Urban Air Port could look like
Urban Air Port Air-One has been selected as a winner of the UK government’s Future Flight Challenge to develop aviation infrastructure and systems that enable the next generation of electric and autonomous air vehicles. Air-One is a fully-operational hub for future electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis – to be launched in Coventry later this year.
The leaders of the project say it will bring industry, government and the public together to demonstrate how sustainable urban air mobility can reduce congestion, cut air pollution and decarbonise transport while providing passenger journeys and deliveries.
NASA predicts that urban-air mobility in the US alone could be worth up to $500 billion USD (£375 billion) in the near-term and states that a significant barrier to market growth is the lack of infrastructure, an issue which project co-ordinators say Urban Air Port was established to resolve.
“Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports. Over a hundred years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world,” said Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban Air Port.
“Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy.
“Flying cars used to be a futuristic flight of fancy. Air-One will bring clean urban air transport to the masses and unleash a new airborne world of zero emission mobility.”
The physical footprint of an Urban Air Port is 60 per cent smaller than a traditional heliport (the most comparable existing infrastructure). Using innovative construction, those behind the project say the sites can be installed in a matter of days, emit net zero carbon emissions and can be operated completely off-grid, meaning they do not always have to rely on a suitable grid connection.
The new site is reportedly designed to support any eVTOL aircraft and complements other modes of sustainable transport as a hub for electric vehicles, buses or scooters. Designers say Urban Air Ports can be easily moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops. This design also means the sites are ideal for disaster emergency management. Designers claim Urban Air Ports can rapidly deploy drones and other eVTOL to collect and transport emergency supplies, equipment and people where needed.
Urban Air Port says it chose Coventry for the first site due to its important location in the heart of the UK and because it is a historic hub for the automobile and aerospace industry, with a pool of people and skills that can support the manufacturing industries of the future. The city’s unique location also provides easy access within four hours to most parts of the country.
“We are already a city that is helping to shape the future of electric transport and this is yet another ground breaking project that puts Coventry at the forefront of new technologies,” said Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said.
“It highlights how the council is working alongside a range of organisations to help shape a better, greener future.”
With research partners at Coventry University, Urban Air Port says it aims to further public understanding and acceptance of the new technology – a key factor to its ultimate success. The Air-One site in Coventry will showcase live demonstrations of remote aircraft command and control, charging and refuelling, as well as cargo and passenger loading for manned and unmanned eVTOL aircraft operating in three key markets: passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics and disaster emergency management.