In terms of technology, any vertiport has a number of key physical requirements: a stable power grid for fast recharging, a hangar for maintenance, and a system for moving vehicles and enough space around the platform. take-off and landing so that the aircraft can maneuver. While the design of Urban-Air Port has a mobile platform to lift vehicles to the roof of the building, Hermans explains that vertiports will require less free space than helicopters, which land much less vertically than most of us do. imagine; eVTOLs, by comparison, do, as their name suggests, actually take off vertically. “This allows you, in your vertiport design, to start integrating them into much denser urban environments where helicopters may not be able to operate,” says Hermans.
Although computer rendering of vertiports is often placed on top of buildings, this would require passengers to have access to an elevator to the top, and many building managers will not be interested in letting people in at random. members of the public. The roofs of towers also often house construction equipment such as elevator mechanisms and air conditioning ducts, leaving a relatively small footprint to place a vertiport. Of course, it may be fine for a single vehicle, but an economically viable vertiport is likely to require space for multiple vehicles.
While some wealthy private companies may offer air taxi travel to their staff as an advantage, Hermans predicts that public docks are more likely to be located on top of lower buildings, such as parking lots, which is why Sandhu went three weeks in a Coventry car park. at a train station. “The challenge is to bring planes to compact, dense places,” he says, and most importantly, as close as possible to other transportation infrastructure.
There is another reason why lower vertiports have merit: they take less time to climb. Urban-Air placed its OneAir port in a parking lot next to a train station to make it faster and easier to access. If it had been on top of a building, passengers would have added more time to their journey. On the other hand, the more central the vertiports are, and the lower they are on the ground, the greater the risk of shock and noise.
This is the physical side of vertiports. As for passengers, it is unclear whether security will be similar to that of airports or train stations, and reducing queues and time-consuming checks is important for a market that is committed to fast travel. “If you’re spending 10 minutes going through safety for a flight that only lasts five minutes, that doesn’t build up very well,” says Hermans.
Of course, airports are not just about travel, like it or not, they are also about shopping. To find out how to make the most of the available space, Urban-Air Port worked with Qatar Airways duty free experts in the design of commercial areas. “The key was for the brands to showcase some of their products in a very small footprint,” Sandhu says.
It may seem a little early to adjust the space for lattes and retail; after all, none of the eVTOLs are still approved by regulators, let alone in mass production. But the industry needs to start considering infrastructure before air taxis are ready to fly. “If you make a plane, you don’t have to worry about where it’s going,” says Sergio Cecutta of transportation analyst firm SMG Consulting. “We don’t want to get into a catch-22 situation where there are no vehicles, so there is no infrastructure. We have to do it at the same time. “