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ELECTRIC AIRCRAFT UK to host world’s first airport for electric aircraft

From Luke James

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Coventry in the UK is destined to become home to the world’s first “airport” for electric aircraft. Known as Air-One, it’s set to launch this year as a hub for aircraft including air taxis and delivery drones.

A mock-up of the Air-One site with a Hyundai eVTOL on top.
A mock-up of the Air-One site with a Hyundai eVTOL on top.
(Source: Urban-Air Port Ltd)

A fully operational urban “airport” for electric and autonomous air vehicles such as air taxis and drones will be launched in the UK later this year, it has been announced. Due to be located in Coventry, it will be the first of around 200 other airports planned for other parts of the world over the next five years.

Known as Air-One, the airport comes from a company called Urban Air-Port and is a ‘pop-up’ airport and charging hub for future electric virtual take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that will be used to transport people and packages across urban areas in the years to come.

A hub for future electric aircraft

Urban Air-Port is a subsidiary of Six Miles Across London Limited (‘small’, a sustainable tech company) and has partnered up with Hyundai, Coventry City Council, and the UK government on the project.

In late January, Air-One was announced as the winner of the UK government’s Future Flight Challenge thanks to its potential to “holistically decarbonise transport” and reduce both congestion and air pollution.

“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,” said Urban Air Port’s founder and executive chairman, Ricky Sandhu.

A total of 200 urban airport sites are planned for launch within the next five years. According to NASA, urban air mobility in the United States alone could be worth up $500 billion in the near-term, however, there are many legislative and regulatory hurdles to overcome before electrified aircraft can be operated in large numbers.

The different ecosystem partners involved in developing the Air-One site.
The different ecosystem partners involved in developing the Air-One site.
(Source: Urban-Air Port Ltd.)

Sites installed in a matter of days

Hyundai is working with Urban-Air Port as part of its wider plan to commercialize its own fleet of electric aircraft by 2028. Pamela Cohn, COO of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division said that supporting the development of core infrastructure is “imperative” to the advancement of eVTOL aircraft.

Air-One is designed to be roughly 60 percent smaller than a traditional heliport, and sites can be installed within a matter of days rather than months. Once sites are installed, they’ll be capable of operating completely off-grid.

Coventry University researchers will also help further the understanding of electric aircraft and their public perception. Drone developer Malloy Aeronautics will be the UK drone aircraft partner for the project and provide 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.


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