Urban-Air Port has opened Air-One in Coventry, a demonstration hub for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles – such as air taxis and autonomous cargo drones.
The UK-based developer of ground infrastructure for air taxis and autonomous delivery drones says that Air-One, which will be operational for the next month, will provide a blueprint for more than 200 vertiports planned worldwide over the next five years.
It will demonstrate aircraft command and control, eVTOL charging, cargo loading for unmanned drones, and will host demonstrator flights.
West Midlands Police and 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 – the first time a drone of this size has flown in such a dense and built-up urban environment.
Air-One will also host charging infrastructure for other modes of electric transport, including electric vehicles (EVs).
A series of public engagement events at Air-One will also bring future air mobility to life for the public and form part of Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.
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, Sandhu says Urban-Air Port has delivered Air-One in 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,” he added. “The interest is turning into recognition of the need for our technology and into demand.”
Despite a booming market and a strong pipeline of eVTOLs entering commercial operations this decade, the lack of ground infrastructure remains one of the single biggest barriers to growth, according to analysis by NASA.
Urban-Air Port, which is backed by the UK Government and supported by Supernal, says that Air-One will demonstrate how purpose-built ground infrastructure can unleash the potential of AAM to decarbonise transport and cut air pollution and congestion, while providing seamless passenger journeys and deliveries.
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.”
Urban-Air Port is accelerating its plans to develop 200 vertiports worldwide, and the company’s order book for additional sites is growing, with vertiports already planned in the UK in the West Midlands and London, and internationally in the United States (Los Angeles), Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia.
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.”
Coventry was chosen for the site due to its location in the heart of the UK – with most parts of the country within four hours of travel – and its historic leadership in the automobile and aerospace industries.
A series of public engagement events at Air-One will bring future air mobility to life for the public and form part of Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.
Following the programme in Coventry in Summer 2022, Urban-Air Port will redeploy Air-One to other locations in the UK and internationally to undertake a variety of demonstrations in different environments and settings, establishing the global standard for ground infrastructure.