Digital infrastructure developer Urban-Air Port has opened a fully operational hub, named Air-One, for future electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.
With the ability to accommodate air taxis and autonomous delivery drones, the center is expected to demonstrate how advanced air mobility can support a zero-carbon future by cutting congestion and air pollution. The hub has been backed by the UK government and supported by advanced air mobility developer Supernal.
Coventry was chosen for the site due to its location in the center of the UK – with most parts of the country within four hours of travel. Coventry University’s National Transport Design Centre, part of the research Centre for Future Transport and Cities, has contributed to Urban-Air Port’s design. Researchers have worked to ensure Air-One’s design is accessible and easy to navigate, and Coventry University will continue to collaborate with Urban-Air Port to increase public understanding and acceptance of the new technology.
Air-One will also host charging infrastructure for other modes of electric transport, including electric vehicles. A series of public engagement events at Air-One have been planned, to bring future air mobility to life for the public and form part of Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.
At the launch event, Air-One will demonstrate aircraft command and control, eVTOL charging and cargo loading for unmanned drones. It will also host demonstrator flights. West Midlands Police and drone logistics company Skyfarer will be among the first to operate flights from the site, showcasing how Urban-Air Port’s vertiports can provide drone bases for ‘sky protection’ and high-value cargo deliveries in the near future. Flights of large cargo drones will also be demonstrated by UK-based drone developer Malloy Aeronautics.
Following the launch in Coventry, Urban-Air Port plans to deploy 200 more hubs around the world over the next five years. Vertiports will be launched in the UK in the West Midlands and London, and internationally in the US, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Southeast Asia. As announced in October 2021, Urban-Air Port and Munich Airport’s airport operator will also cooperate on the launch of an Air-One site.
According to Urban-Air Port, the advanced air mobility (AAM) market is set to take off, with forecast growth of 9% annually to reach US$1tn within the next two decades. Analysis by NASA indicates that the lack of ground infrastructure remains one of the biggest barriers to the industry’s 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.”
Robert Courts, UK minister for aviation, 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 revolutionize 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 leveling up opportunity in the Midlands.”
Mike Whitaker, chief commercial officer of Supernal, said, “Air-One serves as a valuable, tangible asset to help 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.”