Plans are afoot to build a vertiport in some of the world’s largest cities. The proliferation of vertiports is only a matter of time, now that the demand and design have been established and the funding is in place. Industry stakeholders have reason for optimism as concrete plans are being initiated.
These new technologies are developing rapidly. In the few years since I first flew a drone AAM aircraft have lept from the drawing board into the air as prototypes. It would not be surprising if in the next five years the first commercial services began to operate.
Floridians in the Lake Nona area are already anticipating the opening of Lilium’s first vertiport there. They plan to create a state hub for urban air mobility that will set an example to the rest of the USA and the wider world.
What is a vertiport?
A vertiport is a facility where vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft can operate. They will be typically used in urban areas where there is limited space for airports. Vertiports can be either private or public, and they vary in size and capacity.
Some of the first vertiports may only have room for a handful of eVTOL aircraft but as the infrastructure develops and public acceptance of this new form of aviation grows we may one day see vertiports in which dozens or hundreds operate.
The aircraft will be piloted or state of the art UAV (drones). We may see a certain amount of vertiport automation pilotless drones drop off and pick up small amounts of cargo. It’s also possible that flying taxis will one day be automated but I suspect that is a long way off yet.
In addition to UAM aircraft some vertiports will also allow other types of VTOL aircraft, such as drones and tiltrotor aircraft. As the popularity of VTOL aircraft continues to grow, it is likely that vertiports will become more common in cities around the world.
Vertiports in the news
Here is just a sample of recent news items, announcements, and press releases from various companies regarding vertiports and UAM in the month of June (2022) alone.
- US House passes bill that provides funding for AAM infrastructure – June 17
- AAM Infrastructure Readiness Index measures vertiport network progress – June 16
- Port San Antonio expansion plans include vertiport, moon terrain simulator – June 16
- SITA to Provide Skyports with Technology for Vertiport Testbed Near Paris – June 16
- Pioneering Vertiport in Canada to Be Built at a Former U.S. Air Force Base – June 13
- Airports Group Plans Vertiports with eVTOL Developers – Jun 9
- Skyports Partnership to Explore Vertiport Opportunities in Japan – June 8
- This Is What Flying Car Ports Should Look Like – June 3
- UK Electric Flying Taxi Startup Vertical Aerospace is Partnering with a Brazilian Airport – June 2
Heliport, Vertiport, Skyport
- Helipads – Landing areas for helicopters
- Heliports – Landing areas for helicopters with additional amenities for passengers, crew, and servicing
- Vertiports – Landing areas for VTOL and eVTOL aircraft with the accompanying amenities that you would expect to find at an airport
- Voloports – Landing areas specifically for Volocopters
- Skyports – Name for a UK based company that is building a vertiports infrastructure for the AAM industry (Advanced Aerial Mobility). This infrastructure is for both UAM (Urban Air Mobility) and drone deliveries.
- urban-Air Port – Name of another UK based company building UAM infrastructure
- Airports – Infrastuctures where aircraft of all types operate both domestically and internationally, commercially and for recreation and training
A helipad is a landing platform for helicopters. It can be located on the roof of a building, on the ground, or on a ship. Helipads are usually built to specifications set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Most helipads are marked with a lighted “H” to indicate their purpose, and may also be lit at night. Helipads are typically used for general civil transport, emergency medical transport, law enforcement, and military operations.
A heliport is a specialized facility designed to accommodate helicopters and other rotary-wing aircraft. Heliports typically feature a landing pad or platform, as well as fuel and maintenance services. Some heliports may also offer passenger amenities such as terminal buildings, parking, and ground transportation.
In many cases, heliports are located near hospitals or other emergency service facilities in order to facilitate quick response times. Helicopters have a much shorter takeoff and landing distance than fixed-wing aircraft, making them ideal for use in congested urban areas. As a result, heliports play an important role in emergency medical services, law enforcement, and other time-sensitive operations.
VTOL and eVTOL Aircraft
Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft are a type of jet or rotorcraft that is capable of taking off and landing vertically. Helicopters are the most common type of VTOL aircraft, but there are also other designs, such as the V-22 Osprey and the AV-8B Harrier. All these designs have been in use for some time and are common knowledge.
VTOL aircraft have several advantages over traditional fixed-wing aircraft the most obvious of which is that they do not require a runway for take-off or landing which means they require far less land in which to operate. However, VTOL aircraft typically have shorter range and lower speeds than fixed-wing aircraft, and they are more susceptible to turbulence.
Nevertheless, with the advent of electric propulsion, VTOL aircraft are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for urban air mobility applications. Some examples of eVTOL aircraft include the Volocopter 2X, the Bell Nexus 4EX, and the Lilium Jet.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
Urban air mobility (UAM) is the use of aircraft to move people and goods around cities in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. UAM offers a number of advantages over traditional ground transportation, including shorter travel times, lower emissions, and less congestion.
There are a variety of different aircraft that can be used for UAM, from electric helicopters to vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) jets. The infrastructure needed to support UAM is also fairly simple, consisting primarily of vertiports, helipads, and charging stations.
With the rise of autonomous technology, UAM is becoming increasingly feasible, and it has the potential to revolutionize transportation in cities around the world.
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) could be described as the next generation of UAM. If UAM is designed to accomodate the need for efficient, ubiquitious, and freen air transport within cities then AAM is the natural extension of this between cities, carrying passengers and cargo.
Advanced Air Mobility also encompasses the ideal of private individuals flying their own recreational or commuter vehicles. In the same way that some use road transport in a private car instead of public transport, people will be able to drive and fly their flying cars instead of using the air taxi services.
As long as the industry stakeholders continue to supply the funds to continue the pace of development of these new technologies then the vision of a pollution-free cityscape populated with flying taxis could become a reality in the next five years or so.