Coventry is set to become home to Air One, the world’s first airport for electric aircraft including air taxis and autonomous delivery drones.
The project has been launched by Urban Air Port, a subsidiary of sustainable tech company small (Six Miles Across London Limited) in partnership with Hyundai Motor Company, Coventry City Council and the UK government.
Announced today as the winner of the government’s Future Flight Challenge, Air One is described as a fully operational hub for future electric vehicle take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with the potential to ‘holistically decarbonise transport’, reducing congestion and air pollution. The site is planned to launch later this year, with an ambition of developing more than 200 sites in the next five years to meet global demand.
Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban Air Port said: “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports. Over a hundred years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world. Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK to take the lead in a whole new clean global economy.”
Hyundai will support the project as part of its plan to commercialise its own electric aircraft by 2028. Pamela Cohn, COO for the company’s Urban Air Mobility Division, said that the development of supporting infrastructure is ‘imperative’ to the advancement of eVOTLs and that the project is set to lead the way in developing a ‘robust, accessible and intermodal network for future mobility’.
The physical footprint of the Urban Air Port is designed to be 60 per cent smaller than a traditional heliport, and sites can reportedly be installed within a matter of days. Once installed the sites will also be able to operate completely off-grid.
Research partners at Coventry University will aim to help the further understanding of electric aircraft vehicles and their acceptance by the public. The West Midlands site showcase live demonstrations of remote aircraft command and control; charging and refuelling; and cargo and passenger loading for manned and unmanned eVTOL aircraft operating in passenger air taxi services, autonomous logistics and disaster emergency management.
Drone developer, logistics and engineering company Malloy Aeronautics will be UK drone aircraft partner for the project, providing large cargo drones for the site.
The project was awarded a £1.2m grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge and £125m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, expected to be matched by up to £175m from industry.