A UK-based company, which claims it is introducing a new age of zero-emission, low-congestion urban transport, has unveiled a fully-operational hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles – such as air taxis and autonomous cargo drones – in Coventry.
Urban-Air Port – backed by the UK government and supported by air mobility company Supernal – will operate Air-One in the heart of Coventry for at least one month.
Air-One is intended to provide a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide by Urban-Air Port over the next five years.
Air-One will demonstrate aircraft command and control, eVTOL charging, cargo loading for unmanned drones, and will host demonstrator flights, with West Midlands Police scheduled to be among the first operators to fly from the site.
To integrate with other forms of zero-emission transport, Air-One will also host charging infrastructure for other modes of electric transport, including electric vehicles.
Flights of large cargo drones will also be demonstrated by UK-based drone developer Malloy Aeronautics – the first time a drone of this size has flown in such a dense and built-up urban environment.
Following the deployment in Coventry, Urban-Air Port will move Air-One to other locations in the UK and internationally to undertake a variety of demonstrations in different environments and settings.
Some reports have suggested the advanced air mobility (AAM) market could grow 9% annually to reach $1 trillion within the next two decades, but NASA has warned the lack of ground infrastructure remains one of the single biggest barriers to growth.
Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port, said: “The opening of Air-One is a momentous moment – the starting gun for a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected than ever before. Cars have roads. Trains have rails. Planes have airports. Now, eVTOLs have an Urban-Air Port.
“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.”
Minister for aviation Robert Courts said: “British innovation has a rich history of transforming global transportation, from the creation of the railroads in the 1800s, to the growth of great British brands such as Jaguar, Triumph and Rover in the 1950s.
“The opening of Air-One, backed by Government funding, will revolutionise the way people and goods travel across the nation. This step forward puts Britain at the vanguard of clean transport, bringing investment and high-skilled, green job opportunities to the nation, while levelling up opportunity in the Midlands.”
Mike Whitaker, chief commercial officer of Supernal, said: “Air-One serves as a valuable, tangible asset to helping build stakeholder confidence and trust in emerging mobility technology and supporting systems. The Coventry demonstration is an important first step forward to reimagining how people across the world will move, connect and live.
“Developing a scalable system to support advanced air mobility operations requires collaboration from all industries and corners of the world. Supernal’s support of Urban-Air Port reinforces our belief in fusing technology and innovation to enable humanity and society to reach new levels of potential.”