SEA Milan Airports explores deployment of vertiports across Italy

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SEA Milan, which manages Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate airports in Italy, has signed a partnership with vertiport owner, Skyports, to investigate the development and operation of a network of vertiports across Italy. The collaboration will enable SEA Group to explore the deployment of vehicle-agnostic, scalable and cost-effective vertiports across the city and the surrounding region. Use cases for advanced air mobility have already been identified, which would see commercial operations being established in time for the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics.

“I’m really excited about this partnership,” said Duncan Walker, CEO and Founder of Skyports. “Milan is a central business hub for Italy’s northern region, which makes it an attractive market for advanced air mobility applications. Our plans are to have a number of operational vertiports across Italy by the mid-2020s in time for the 2026 Winter Olympics. SEA Milano is the ideal partner for delivering on our strategy in Italy.”

Commenting on how SEA is committed to the development of advanced air mobility (AAM) as a core component of its sustainability strategy, Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports added: “Collaborating with Skyports, the global market leader in designing, building and operating vertiports will accelerate SEA’s capability to deploy a network of vertiports, starting from greater Milan. Thus we are supporting the start-up and development of this promising and sustainable mode of air mobility, as set out in the framework guidelines of the national strategic roadmap for AAM developed by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.”

Skyports and Irelandia collaboration sees drone deliveries set to land in Colombia

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Drone delivery operator, Skyports, has created a joint venture with low-cost airline developer Irelandia to bring drone deliveries to remote communities across Colombia and wider Latin America (LATAM).

The joint venture will be led by skyports’ Bogota-based Colombia General Manager, Daniel Salamanca, who was the first to receive approval for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights in Colombia on the Pacific Coast, where he worked with the national government and the presidency to transport blood samples from rural areas into central hospitals. These drone delivery trials benefitted more than 1,200 people and waiting times for laboratory results was reduced by more than 75%.

The first drone flights are expected to take place around mid-2022 with deliveries to remote areas of Colombia including La Guajira and Choco. The Skyports medical drone delivery trials, which will carry critical supplies such as vaccines, pathology samples and HIV tests, will be the first of their kind for Colombia. Australian drone company, Swoop Aero, is providing the drones which can carry up to 5kg, as far as 180km in harsh environments, such as high altitudes, wind and rain.

As a low-cost airline develop, Irelandia, brings its aviation expertise to the partnership, through its previous ownership of leading airlines Ryanair, Tiger Air, Alleigant and Viva Aerobus. Irelandia’s current airline is Viva Air, based in Colombia and Peru.

Commenting on the partnership, Dec Ryan, Managing and Founding Partner of Irelandia Aviation, said: “We’re excited about collaborating with Skyports on this joint venture and bringing our heritage in cutting-edge aviation, expertise of working closely with regulators, and market intellect to this partnership. This is just the start of our expansion into wider LATAM and we look forward to announcing more countries soon.”

Meanwhile, Duncan Walker, CEO and Founder of Skyports added that Colombia is an “incredibly exciting market.” He also stated that drone delivery operations are not just about commercial gains. “They are about connecting rural communities with the necessities of life, such as healthcare and logistics. It’s our aim that people receive the same level of healthcare, everywhere in the world, regardless of where they live.”

Shannon Airport in Ireland used as testbed for FedEx Express drone deliveries

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FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp and the world’s largest express transportation company, has collaborated with Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) Air to trial last-mile drone delivery of goods between Shannon Airport, County Clare and Foynes Port, County Limerick, Ireland’s second-largest port operator and largest bulk port company.

Conducted by Skyports, on behalf of the FCMI Air consortium which also includes Avtrain, Shannon Group and FCMI, the delivery of the first FedEx Express package in Ireland via drone demonstrates the benefits of drone delivery for last-mile service. The trials will last a month and will see a number of test flights conducted in the Mid-West region, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) between Shannon Airport and Foynes Port. Deliveries are anticipated to be made in less than 13 minutes.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to deliver the world to our customers’ doorsteps and I’m delighted that this drone delivery trial is underway and an example of how we, as an industry, continue to explore new technology to help meet our customers’ evolving delivery needs,” said Mike Roche, Operations Managing Director, FedEx Express Ireland.

Meanwhile speaking on behalf of the FMCI Air Consortium, Julie Garland explained that the testing of the incorporation of BVLOS drone freight deliveries into global supply chain logistics is the future. “The location of this trial from the FMCI base adjacent to Shannon Airport, in controlled airspace, with full air traffic control services demonstrates the integration of manned aircraft operations with simultaneous vertiport drone operations becoming the norm and paving the way for Advanced Air Mobility.”

Skyports proposes vertiport to enable Advanced Air Mobility in London

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Skyports has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Brent Cross South Limited Partnership, a joint venture between Argent Related and Barnet Council in London, UK to develop a passenger air taxi vertiport at Brent Cross Town.

The £7 billion 180-acre development in north-west London, which is being regenerated as a mixed-use park town for the capital, is conveniently located to access central London hence it being selected as a prospective location for the vertiport.

While an interim vertiport could be built at Brent Cross Town as early as 2024, a permanent location would be constructed during the development phases to create the opportunity for electric passenger air taxi services between this and other Skyports vertiports in and around London and the rest of the UK.

“This exciting project is a sign of huge progress within the industry,” said Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports. “The very fact that vertiports are being planned for construction in mixed-use neighbourhoods such as Brent Cross Town demonstrates the direction in which the industry is moving and the increasing confidence in its success. Our in-house team of airport planners, regulatory experts, airspace experts, software and hardware developers remains completely focused on vertiports which are safe, practical and in locations which will make a positive impact on daily life,” he continued.

Welcoming the opportunity to work with Skyports as specialists in the planning and construction of vertiport infrastructure, Andre Gibbs, Partner at Argent Related added that “the vertiport would strengthen transport connections into and out of central London and would complement the new train station, the existing tube links, comprehensive road connectivity and cycleways.”

Skyports will work with Brent Cross Town to share market insights and developments in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry, undertake due diligence on the site and engage with external regulatory bodies such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority and local government to obtain relevant permissions. The Brent Cross Town team alongside Barnet Council meanwhile will provide the local knowledge to allow plans to progress, as well as lead introductions with local stakeholders and contractors, and facilitate access to enable Skyports to undertake any preliminary investigative works.

Skyports and Kencoa Aerospace join forces to implement cargo drone deliveries in South Korea

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As a pioneer in cargo drone deliveries and advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure, Skyports has teamed up with Kencoa Aerospace, a global aerospace solution supplier and manufacturer, to announce a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to deploy cargo drone deliveries to and on Jeju Island in South Korea.

South Korea’s largest island is located approximately 60 miles south of the mainland in the Korea Strait and the aim of the Skyports and Kencoa’s project is to significantly enhance logistics capabilities on Jeju Island. Deliveries will include critical supplies, including medical provisions, across the island.

Skyports involvement in the project will include undertaking a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the benefits and capabilities of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations on Jeju Island. In addition, the company will also conduct a feasibility assessment of setting up a cargo drone vertiport and accumulate critical eVTOL operations data ahead of the commencement of commercial operations.

“South Korea is ripe with opportunity in the advanced air mobility space,” said Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports. “Jeju Island’s specific volcanic and island geography provides a unique backdrop on which to demonstrate the benefits of drone logistics. With our BVLOS cargo drone operations, delivery services on the island will be up to six times faster, with carbon emission reduced by up to 90%. Drone deliveries have the potential to totally transform services for residents and healthcare providers, and we’re excited to be amongst the first movers in South Korea – and globally.”

Skyports’ drone delivery services have already seen successs in the UK and other locations. Projects include the UK’s first COVID-19 test drone delivery service in Scotland with the NHS and the operation of an inter-island medical drone delivery service between the Isles of Scilly for Royal Mail. It was also the company to build a full-scale passenger air taxi vertiport – the take-off and landing infrastructure for eVTOL aircraft, which was launched as part of a trial that took place in Singapore in 2019.

Kenny Lee, CEO of Kencoa Aerospace, also voiced his enthusiasm for the collaboration, saying: “Through this partnership we will commence drone deliveries in Jeju Province before establishing AAM infrastructure and expanding into the air taxi industry. Jeju’s excellent tourist resources will promote the commercialisation of our AAM services. The strength of this partnership will enable the fastest commercial launch in Korea.”

Skyports takes drone deliveries to new heights with Swoop Aero collaboration

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Following its success in contributing to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) COVID-19 response, Australian drone logistics company Swoop Aero and UK advance air mobility (AAM) company, Skyports, are extending their partnership (which began in late 2020) to deploy drone delivery networks across the Americas and Europe.

The collaboration, which will combine Skyport’s expertise in drone delivery operations with Swoop Aero’s technology and extensive experience, will enable increased access to drone delivery solutions. In addition to streamlining and modernising traditional logistics networks, the partnership will improve critical supply chains to support emergency responses, such as the COVID-19 crisis.

The announcement of the partnership follows the recent launch of Swoop Aero’s Kite™ aircraft – the next-generation aircraft is designed with precision for urban flight and high-impact rural and remote operations. According to Swoop Aero, it will be the most advanced aircraft of its type being progressed through the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification programmes.

“We’re so excited to continue to work with Skyports in new markets across Europe and the Americas,” said Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero. “With Kite™, Swoop Aero has finessed our versatility and unlocked the skies above cities. We’re excited to unlock the potential of drone logistics for these new markets,” he added.

The new partnership will see Skyports become Swoop Aero’s first partner organisation to gain access to the Kite aircraft as part of Swoop Aero’s Kite™ Pioneer Programme. The Kite aircraft will be integrated into Skyports’ fleet for use across medical, maritime and logistics drone delivery operations across Europe, the Americas and select Asia-Pacific countries. Similarly, Swoop Aero will also be able to leverage the partnership with Skyports to accelerate the footprint of its technology around the world.

Peck added: “In our collaboration with Skyports, we have been able to treat patients in their local communities and enhance the emotional and economic prosperity of people in the region.

“It’s great to see the positive impacts that have emerged from our strategic partnership, and we’re looking forward to extending our collaboration into new markets, and continuing to work towards Swoop Aero’s goal to provide 100 million people with access to sustainable drone networks by 2025.”

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, added his support for the collaboration saying: “It has been instrumental to our drone delivery operations which are helping to connect people in even the most remote geographies. The extension of this partnership not only demonstrates our commitment to improving medical logistics and access to healthcare around the world, but it also highlights the work we’re doing to make drone deliveries a commercial, scalable reality. The American and European markets have demonstrated huge appetite for drone delivery services, and we’re thrilled to be leading the revolution.”

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.