British start-up to build 65 mini-airports for flying taxi services


British start-up Urban-Air Port has teamed up with automaker Hyundai to build 65 mini-airports around the world, designed for a new generation of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger vehicles.

Often described as flying taxis, eVTOLs are typically small electric planes or larger drone-inspired vehicles designed to carry a small number of passengers over relatively short distances.

German company Volocopter plans to introduce service to Paris by the time of the 2024 Olympics, while aircraft rental company Avolon placed a $ 2 billion order in June for 500 eVTOL – also with a date for the launch of commercial service in 2024 in mind.

Urban-Air Port said the booming eVTOL industry currently lacks the infrastructure to support vehicles and could be a major obstacle to market growth. So far, only 3% of the investment ($ 150 million) has been spent on physical infrastructure.

It aims to establish a global network of urban and air ports with plans to build 200 sites around the world over the next five years.

Investments in the sector have increased significantly this year, with $ 4.7 billion announced to date for the development of eVTOL vehicles.

Urban-Air Port has announced that it will unveil the world’s first fully operational urban air port – named Air-One – in Coventry early next year.

Mockup for a proposed LA site

Image credit: hyundai

Ricky Sandhu, founder of Urban-Air Port, said: “The industry is booming and we know that a future with electric flying vehicles and drones in cities will soon be a reality.

“But that can’t happen if we don’t have the infrastructure on the ground and in the air to make it happen. Urban-Air Port will forever change the way we travel – unlocking clean urban air transport for everyone, improving connectivity in congested cities, reducing pollution and increasing productivity.

The start-up has created “modular hubs” designed for compact environments. Maintenance and recharging of eVTOLs can take place on-site and the design should allow them to be located in dense urban areas and remote locations.

This design, which is easily manageable, also means that the sites are ideal for managing emergencies in the event of disasters, such as natural disasters.

Aerospace Minister Paul Scully said: “The government-backed Port Urban-Air heralds a new, convenient and sustainable way to travel in the UK, improving connectivity between cities, while helping us to rebuild in a greener way.

“The UK is at the forefront of new technology in the pursuit of a net zero economy by 2050. Ensuring the infrastructure exists for these new modes of transport is essential to making zero-emission urban flying a daily reality.

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