Malaysia Airports collaborates with Skyports and Volocopter for vertiport study

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Malaysia Airports has agreed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Skyports, designer and operator of vertiport infrastructure for electric air taxis, and Volocopter, the pioneer of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to conduct a feasibility study for vertiport deployment in Malaysia.

The collaboration forms part of the five-year Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang Regeneration plan (LTSAAS) and will explore the deployment of revolutionary electric air taxi services at LTSAAS as well as other locations throughout Malaysia. As a first step, the three parties will combine their aerospace and aviation expertise to conduct a feasibility study examining suitable vertiport solutions to enable the safe take-off and landing of passenger eVOTL vehicles, considering factors such as demand, customer flow, and how to integrate UAM operations.

With the Asia Pacific region expected to capture around 45% of the advanced air mobility (AAM) market by 2035, this equates to around $9.5 billion. As such, the outcome of this tripartite venture will be a game-changer in terms of air travel offerings.

“Air taxi technology and revolution is the next big thing we want to see happen in Malaysian aviation. With LTSAAS offering a synergistic ecosystem within the aviation and aerospace sectors, it is timely for us to explore this new service as it complements other key developments of the regeneration initiative,” said Malaysia Airports’ Group CEO, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh.

“Volocopter and Skyports are both leaders in their respective fields of advanced air mobility and we hope to further futureproof LTSAAS’s position in Asia Pacific by catering to research, assembly, manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) in addition to air taxi operations. Our objective is to provide end to end, mid to high value capabilities and solutions that are anchored by top tier operators,” Salleh added.

LTSAAS Regeneration will offer various development opportunities to aviation and aerospace players worldwide thus echoing the government’s original intent to turn LTSAAS into both an international aerospace centre and business aviation hub.

Meanwhile, Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, added:

Malaysia Airports’ ambitions for future proofing Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport and implementing electric air taxi services throughout Malaysia align with Skyports’ ambitions to deliver UAM in the Asia Pacific market. The feasibility study will allow us to explore all the elements needed to create a future air mobility model that could be deployed across the region. Our track record of success with Volocopter, combined with a wealth of experience and Malaysia Airports’ objectives, make this an exciting initiative.

Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter, remarked that the Southeast Asian Market is one of the largest and most interesting ones for UAM due to its geographical layout and dense population. “Our feasibility study will help give us insights on demand, customer expectations, and airport integration, which we can apply to other markets in the region.”

Consortium provides launch pad for Ireland’s advanced air mobility market

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Skyports has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Shannon Group, Future Mobility Campus Ireland and Avtrain  to establish Ireland’s first passenger and cargo vertiport.

Alongside Skyports, Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FCMI), Ireland’s first testbed for future mobility located next to Shannon Airport; Avtrain, Europe’s leading drone training and certification body; and Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre, which supports and promotes one of Ireland’s largest aviation clusters located at Shannon, are all collaborating in the venture.

By joining forces the consortium will work towards launching an operational vertiport at Shannon’s FMCI campus in 2022, encouraging investment in Irelands’ Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) industry. The long-term goal is the establishment of Ireland’s first air taxi service and routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

The consortium has already begun working towards launching BVLOS proof-of-concept operations as early as September 2021. These flights will demonstrate the viability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and highlight the benefits that research and investment in AAM will bring to urban and rural areas.

“This partnership provides a launch pad for Ireland’s AAM market,” said Duncan Walker, CEO Skyports. “To be contributing at this early stage demonstrates the criticality of vertiport infrastructure to the success of the industry. Participating alongside a group of such high calibre organisations puts us in a strong position to kick-start the project, providing the perfect mix of expertise to make our AAM plans a reality.”

Meanwhile, Russell Vickers, CEO at Future Mobility Campus Ireland added, “Ireland and this region in particular has a huge potential to shape future research and development of AAM. Development of a vertiport in conjunction with a UAV testing area provides a natural extension to the capabilities of the Future Mobility Campus. The ecosystem continues to grow thanks to the vision and belief of our partners.”

Skyports builds momentum with vertiport project in Japan

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Skyports has been selected to participate in two upcoming vertiport projects aimed at delivering electric take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLS) in Japan’s Osaka Prefecture.

Skyports has been accepted as one of five organisations to contribute eVTOL expertise to the Osaka Prefecture Super City. The project will see Skyports play a pivotal role in the development of infrastructure and drone delivery services. In addition to working with industry partners on the planning of the network, Skyports aims to have an operational passenger eVTOL vertiport in place by the Osaka-Kansai World Expo in 2025.

“Our knowledge of locating, designing, building and operating infrastructure for air taxis and drone deliveries is second to none. As part of these projects, we are helping Osaka fulfill its vision of becoming an urban air mobility centre in Japan, providing not only a vital facility to support the burgeoning air taxi market, but demonstrating the benefits that drone delivery services will provide to the region,” said Duncan Walker, CEO at Skyports. “The fact that we have been selected to contribute to multiple programmes aimed at developing Japan’s AAM ecosystem is testament to the work that Skyports does. We look forward to working with new and existing partners to enable AAM to thrive.”

Ryo Segawa, Industrial Strategy Group, Industry Innovation Promotion Division, Growth Industry Promotion Office, Department of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Osaka Prefectural Government, added: “We understand that it is one of the most important subjects to build a user-friendly vertiport which can be easily utilised by eVTOL manufacturers, fleet operators, passengers, and other parties considering the introduction of eVTOL into society. In this context, we are very happy to welcome Skyports to join Osaka Round Table because they have a broad knowledge and are actively working in this area globally.”

The city of Osaka, alongside Osaka Prefecture, aims to become a model smart city by providing cutting-edge services in multiple fields and implementing bold regulatory reforms, thereby establishing its place as a world leader in advanced technology and a pioneer of city life of the future.

Skyports joins forces with Royal Mail to pioneer drone deliveries to Isles of Scilly

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Royal Mail has teamed up with Skyports, as well as DronePrep, the University of Southampton, Excalibur Healthcare Services, Consortiq Limited and Windracers Limited to provide better connectivity to the Scilly Islands’ remote communities, using autonomous scheduled drone flights.

The Government-funded project will initially focus on helping the fight the pandemic by delivering crucial PPE and testing kits to the islands’ most vulnerable and remote communities.

A large, twin-engine, UK-built UAV from Windracers Limited will be used to carry mail  from the mainland to the islands, and is able to fly in poor weather conditions, including fog, potentially enabling Royal Mail to better serve remote island communities. A smaller Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTO) drone operated by Skyports will then fly parcels between the two islands for delivery to recipients.

The project unites two pioneering companies – Windracers and the drone delivery arm of air mobility company Skyports – for the first time. It will showcase how UAVs of different sizes could be used to complement each other in the future.

Parcels will be flown to the islands’ airport in St. Mary’s by the twin-engine UAV, which can carry up to 100kg worth of mail at a time – equivalent to a typical delivery round. A smaller VTO drone, operated by Skyports, will then be used to transport items to a number of delivery points throughout the islands.

The UAVs will complement existing forms of transport for mail to the Isles of Scilly and if the trial is successful, the technology will be considered by Royal Mail to help identify opportunities to support postmen and postwomen in delivering to very remote areas and addresses across the UK.

The trial will also examine fuel efficiencies that the drones could provide, as part of the company’s continued drive to reduce emissions associated with operations.

“Drone technology has already proven its value as part of a network, bringing essential items such as mail or medical equipment to remote regions. Working with world-class partners such as Royal Mail, our team at Skyports has conducted a number of successful delivery programmes across the UK and beyond. It’s very gratifying to be part of this new project, using cutting-edge technology to connect communities and make a real difference to people’s day to day lives,” said Duncan Walker, CEO at Skyports.