Skyports partners with Groupe ADP and Volocopter to launch European vertiport testbed

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Thursday 10 November saw Skyports mark a milestone for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) when it partnered with Groupe ADP and Volocopter to launch its vertiport testbed at Pontoise-Cormeilles airfield in Paris.

Speaking at the launch, Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports said: “The Pontoise-Cormeilles terminal is a physical demonstration of the fact that innovation won’t occur in isolation; it requires collaboration from a multitude of area experts, including operators, vehicle manufacturers and technology developers, each of which have  an important role to play in achieving the ultimate objective of commercial AAM services. With the completion of the terminal, we will now begin comprehensive testing of procedures and technologies in a realistic aviation environment, creating a space for Skyports and consortium partners to accelerate the industry.”

The launch event provided an opportunity to demonstrate the end-to-end passenger journey, from arrival at the terminal to aircraft boarding. A model of the VoloCity, which is being developed as Volocopter’s first certified aircraft for commercial services, was featured at the launch, in addition to a crewed test flight of the 2X model. The latter is the only aircraft currently authorised by the French civil aviation authority DGAC for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) test flights in France. Other demonstrations included flight monitoring capabilities and digital operating systems, including Skyports’ vertiport operating system and the VoloIQ.

The Re.Invent Air Mobility testbed (as the facility is named) is currently the most extensive technology-enabled test site for AAM in Europe. The consortium behind it is formed by French airport operator Groupe ADP, Choose Paris Region and RATP Group and is made up of 30 ecosystem partners. It focuses on a range of topics to facilitate the development of the industry, including vehicle department, vertiport infrastructure, airspace integration and public acceptance.

Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP Chairman and CEO added: ” In Pontoise-Coremeilles, we are taking a new decisive step in the development of electric air mobility. The passenger terminal marks the final stage in the development of the Pontoise testbed, and the completion of a volocopter flight fully integrated into the airfield’s airspace is the epitome of a year of very ambitious test campaigns. We are now looking ahead to 2024: the development of all use cases, including health and logistics. ”

Volocopter’s CEO, Dirk Hoke, also attended the opening where he described the testbed as a “stellar example of ecosystem partners collaborating to accelerate the realisation of UAM. We can test processes, integrate new and old systems, and simulate different operational scenarios to create trust and positive awareness of all stakeholders. Together we will succeed in providing an additional emission-free transport option for the public. Every test is one step closer to commercialisation in time for 2024.”

Make sure you’re subscribed to Regional Gateway magazine to read our exclusive interview with Duncan Walker in the December issue. 

Salvador Bahia opens airside AMBAAR Club lounge with Airport Dimensions

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As part of a collaboration with AMBAAR, airport lounge and travel experiences specialist, Airport Dimensions, has opened its latest airside AMBAAR Club lounge at Bahia International Airport in Brazil. The opening follows the October opening of  landside AMBAAR Club lounge.

“Our partnership with AMBAAR has continued to flourish since its inception and our fabulous new space at Salvador Bahia International Airport is a testament to this,” said Nancy Knipp, President Americas at Airport Dimensions.

The new space spans 538 sq.m. and has been designed to give passengers a last experience of Bahia (the Bay of All Saints) and the little town of Trancosco to its south which was once a small fishing village but currently draws tourists from all over the world to its glorious beaches.

An instantly recognised feature of the region are the sea-facing veranda houses of Trancosco. Their character is reflected at the airport where passengers await their flight on a veranda with a view across the airport apron instead of an ocean vista. Hammock seating is also used throughout the lounge, while natural dark woods and AMBAAR’s elegant deep-brown and weathered-steel colour pallet is used throughout, creating an ambiance of casual sophistication.

“As we continue to progress and expand further in this important South American market, we’re humbled to be trusted by so many of Brazil’s airports to deliver a high quality, localised experience for their travellers. Our goal is to create spaces that highlight local craftsmanship and decor for a truly authentic travel experience that resonates with local travellers as well as those coming to the region for the first time,” added Knipp.

Meanwhile, David Thompson, Commercial Director at Salvador Bahia International Airport said: “AMBAAR Club’s second lounge will undoubtedly play a major role in improving our passenger’s airport experience. Salvador Bahia Airport seeks daily to provide a memorable journey to everyone who passes by, and a VIP lounge space was the missing component. AMBAAR club is a sound strategic partner for us, with strong experience. ”

Bombardier’s state-of-the-art Miami service centre now open for business

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Located at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Bombardier inaugurated its state-of-the-art service centre on 31 October.

The new facility, which is located close to Miami’s bustling business district, has been described by the airframe manufacturer as a “testament to Bombardier’s commitment to the US and nearby Latin American markets.” It also establishes a key building block in its growing global customer support network.  At full capacity, the new OEM-operated Miami-Opa Locka Service Centre will add close to 300 aerospace jobs in the community, including more than 225 highly skilled technicians.

Once fully ramped up the 300,000 sq.ft. facility will quadruple Bombardier’s current maintenance footprint in Florida and will enable the company to transfer its service centre from Fort Lauderdale to the new centre at Miami-Opa.

“The US is an important market for Bombardier with close to 3,000 aircraft in our fleet and this highly-efficient facility provides a key focal point for customers base in the area, and those who will visit form as far as Latin America,” said Eric Martel, President and CEO, Bombardier.

“Bombardier began this year by naming Witchita as our new headquarters in the US and I am delighted to highlight this inauguration that significantly grows our footprint and employment base in Florida. The city of Miami is a vibrant, international hub of business and commerce and we can’t wait to welcome our customers to our new facility and see our employees continued to thrive and grow.”

The new centre is fully equipped to perform extensive and complete full-service schedueld and unscheduled heavy maintenance, paint enhancement services, aircraft modifications, avionics installations and Aircraft on Ground Support (AOG) for Bombardier’s business aircraft fleet of Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft. The expanded hangar is also capable of accommodating 18 of Bombardier’s Global 7500 aircraft under one roof.

Ralph Cutie, Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director and CEO added his congratulations to Bombardier, saying: “The successful completion of its newest service centre has brought hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in private investment to Miami-Opa Locke Executive Airport. We are extremely proud to now be home to one of Bombardier’s service centres and a hub for its customers in the US and Latin America.”

Edinburgh Airport explores potential for untapped wind energy

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As part of a trial with green energy company Katrick Technologies Edinburgh Airport is exploring the potential of untapped wind energy across its campus.

The trial will see several wind mapping sensors being installed across the airport’s site – including on the roof and around the runway – to examine areas of unexploited low-level wind power.

The sensors will collect data that will identify the optimal areas to capture and convert energy. Wind panels can then be installed to take advantage of this currently untapped renewable power source.

“As an airport we are always looking to embrace fresh ideas, particularly when it comes to the generation of green energy and this technology has the potential to provide new opportunities around this,” said Danny Quinn, Technical Asset Director at Edinburgh Airport.

“When installed, these sensors have the ability to identify untapped sources of wind energy across our campus, giving us the potential to become more efficient in the way we run.”

Vijay Madlani, Co-CEO of Katrick Technologies added: “Traditional wind turbines simply aren’t feasible for airport estates.

“The goal of our partnership with Edinburgh Airport is to provide them access to previously untapped areas of energy through our wind panels. In addition to their scalable and flexible location applications, the panels are designed to work as B3 noise barriers, meaning they offer highways and airports a noise mitigation solution. Additionally, we have created multiple designs which can complement various environmental settings,” he concluded.

Mumbai Airport launches private jet terminal

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India has unveiled its renovated General Aviation terminal facility, for use by private jet customers and their crew. The new facility features luxurious interiors accentuated with height, light and space.

With staff on call 24/7 guests will receive a warm welcome no matter the time of day or night. There’s an expansive and opulently decorated lounge featuring a butler service as well as a menu featuring light snacks and global cuisine served via a buffet or as an a la carte menu. There is also a conference and meeting room.

The airport’s all-new GA terminal also offers efficient passenger processing services with Customs and Immigration on site, as well as immediate access to private jet aircraft stands from the terminal.

The terminal can handle 50 passengers every hour.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway upgrades to Frequentis digital tower solution

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Frequentis has replaced Phoenix-Mesa Gateway’s airport tower with an integrated digital tower solution.

Consisting of an IP voice communication solution, featuring the ED-137 standard, integrated recording and digital terminal information and weather services, the digital tower ensures controllers have modern solutions to support the anticipated growth at the airport. It also includes space for eight controllers.

The airport’s previous tower was built in 1970 when the airport was known as Williams Air Force Base and served as a training ground for air force pilots. As a commercial hub, the air traffic control tower was not big enough to support the airport’s three 10,000-ft runways, with the new tower deemed an “essential investment that would help the airport become an even more forceful economic engine for the East Valley and Arizona,” by US Representative Greg Stanton, D-Arizona.

Commenting on the new tower, which has been named after John McCain III the late US senator from Arizona, Leonard Swiontek, President Frequentis US said: “We appreciate our long-lasting relationship with Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and are a proud partner supporting the airport’s future with our integrated tower solution providing the flexibility needed to safely scale from current operation into the future. The project is also significant as it marks the first VCS connecting to IP radios using the ED-137 standard, also adopted by the FAA going live into the US.”

Neste partners with CargoAi to help reduce cargo emissions

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CargoAi, a digital solutions provider for the cargo and freight sector, is collaborating with Neste to enable freight forwarders and their clients to reduce the carbon emissions of their cargo operations through the purchase of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

The scheme complements CargoAi’s Cargo2Zero sustainability offering launched in October 2022, with customers now able to purchase SAF in the booking flow – either after a booking is confirmed or when the cargo is being tracked.

“We are proud of this landmark partnership with Neste, as sustainability is at the core of all our product developments and customer interactions,” said Matthieu Petot, CEO of CargoAi. “Building on the CO2 Efficiency Score already available in our Cargo2Zero solution, will further encourage forwarders to enter into discussions with their own clients about what is needed for the industry to move forward towards reaching the industry’s net zero targets together. We are also enabling access for smaller freight forwarding companies in 110 countries to purchase SAF in smaller quantities.”

Neste’s MY SAF will be available to all CargoAi customers for any cargo booking while utilising CargoAi’s innovative digital booking platform. During the booking or trackign phase, freight forwarders will automatically be prompted with data of the CO2 emissions that their shipment will emit, calculated based on IATA standards. They will then have the option to purchase varying percentages of SAF to reduce emissions. Neste ensures the purchased SAF volumes are delivered and used by partner aircraft operators. The emissions reductions achieved will be reported back and can be used to credibly report against sustainability targets.

“We designed Cargo2ZERO as a suite of solutions for integrating and accelerating climate action into the air freight procurement process,” explained Magali Beauregard, CCO CargoAi. “Purchasing SAF remained until now a hard-to-navigate, resource-intensive process and often required purchases of large volumes, which made reducing emissions at the transactional level very difficult. With the direct purchase of SAF now embedded in the booking execution and tracking flows, we’re taking the next steps to empower climate action by offering our clients straightforward, user-friendly and verifiable means to ensure reduced emissions.”

Transoft Solutions unveils new features for SkySAFE

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Transoft Solutions has updated its aviation obstacle clearance and limitation tool, SkySAFE.

An advanced CAD-based software tool, SkySAFE is primarily used for safeguarding the operational areas in and around airports and assists planners with obstacle limitation analysis and clearance compliance. Being able to analyse the impact of permanent and temporary obstacles both at the airport and within its extended operational environment is a vital safety task for every airport.

SkySAFE can be used to assess compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations, as well as several other national regulatory frameworks. In addition, it allows accurate and efficient analysis of fixed and temporary obstacles, to avoid penetrating or threatening the obstacle limitation surfaces defined in regulatory guidelines.

SkySAFE offers several new and improved functions, with the most significant being an all-new command to perofrm ICAO, EASA and PSA (France) PAPI/ APAPI surface analyses. The tool can be used to define the PAPI/ APAPI parameters for each runaway end in terms of the glidepath slope, the pilot’s eye height in relation to the instrument landing system (ILS) antenna (if applicable), the main gear height above the runway as it crosses the threshold and the wingbar displacement from the runway end. This is to ensure the proper light colour visibility for the pilot upon approach.

Qatar Airways marks a decade of connecting Maputo with the world

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Qatar Airways has celebrated a 10-year anniversary of connecting Maputo in Mozambique with Doha from where passengers can connect with the airline’s extensive global network.

The Middle Eastern carrier inaugurates its services between the two destinations in 2012, offering three weekly flights initially. In 2016 it swapped its Boeing 777 aircraft operating the route with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and increased the frequency to provide four weekly services to the Mozambican capital.

“Africa is one of Qatar Airways’ key growth regions in its global network and we are delighted to be celebrating this milestone at Maputo International Airport,” said Qatar Airways’ VP Africa, Hendrik du Preez.

“Qatar Airways has shown its commitment to the African market as the only airline that never stopped flying to southern Africa during the pandemic. This allowed for the movement of medicines, delivering 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mozambique, and essential travel between the region and the rest of the of the world,” du Preez continued.

By maintaining its operations in the region, the airline was able to grow its services again and increase frequencies efficiently once the continent started to open up again.

Elsewhere in Africa, Qatar Airways started operations to Luanda, Harare and Lusaka in 2021 and restarted flights to Windhoek in mid-2022. It also launched services to Kano and Port Harcourt in Nigeria in addition to existing Lagos and Abuja flights.

Lisbon joins easyJet’s network from Birmingham

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Birmingham Airport in the UK has welcomed a new service to Lisbon in Portugal courtesy of easyJet. The inaugural flight took place on 2 November with flights to the Portuguese capital scheduled to be twice-weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays going forward.

“We are thrilled easyJet is expanding its offering from Birmingham,” said Tom Screen, Aviation Director for Birmingham Airport. “Lisbon is a magnificent city, which I know will be very popular with customers across the West Midlands region and beyond.”

Prior to the pandemic, Birmingham Airport handled around 13 million passengers per annum with 35 million people living within its two-hour catchment. A gateway to the West Midlands, the airport is one of the largest employers in the region, creating 30,900 people across the West Midlands and adding £1.5 billion GVA to the regional economy.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, added: “I would like to thank our fantastic customers for choosing to fly with easyJet and we can’t wait to welcome more customers on board.”